Not many of us know that much about New Zealand. In this short post, Gavin gives us some interesting facts about his country, and includes video clips too.
Firstly! We always abbreviate New Zealand as NZ.
Zealand is a place in Holland so named courtesy of Dutch discoverer Abel Tasman in 1642. But he never set foot. That was Yorkshireman James Cook in 1769.
We get known as Kiwis after our national bird. Now to most in Europe & America, NZ gets lumped under the banner of our neighbour Australia. In London I got asked if there was a bridge between the two islands. There is a thousand mile ditch between the two, and politically Australia & NZ are like England & France or USA & Canada. We actually don’t get on well together. Yes Aussie beat us at sports (we drink out of saucers apparently as they have all the cups). Mutton and wool are still major exports and so we can’t get away from the international sheep jokes. But most now know us as Peter Jackson and the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit. But little NZ of 5 million people (land mass just bigger than Britain) has some amazing world firsts.
☻ With international time zones, we are the first to see the sun each day. Yes tourists flock to a town called Gisborne and take a photo of the sun rising out of the sea and send it to their friends in Europe who are now turning their lights on the night before or to LA having lunch the day before.
☻ 1893 NZ were the first to give women the vote.
☻ 1899 the first to work an 8 hour day (we still celebrate that as a public holiday).
☻ 1917 Ernest Rutherford split the atom. There is a memorial where his house was in Nelson and near me you can visit his studio at the old university.
☻ 1939 NZ declared war with Germany first, before Britain (because of the time zone).
☻ 1953 Edmund Hillary was the first to climb the highest peak. I have met Hillary. He trained for his climbing with my uncle. A photo of them stands proudly in my lounge.
☻ 1954 Bill Hamilton invented the jet boat unit which is used now all over the world. The Hamilton Jet powers many of the British ferries and now the RNLI boats. Bill came from my 2nd home town of Fairlie and currently I am leading a project to get a statue for him.
☻ 1987 AJ Hackett invented bungy jumping and made headlines by jumping from the Eiffel Tower. Now tourists flock here to jump off our bridges – and they pay to do it.
☻ 1999 the first transgender MP.
☻ By the way the famous McLaren F1 racing car, that was Bruce McLaren from Auckland, whom I met at school.
☻ But I go back to Richard Pearse. Kiwis will tell you he was the first to fly (the Kiwi is a flightless bird so some pun). I go past where he flew quite often and also visit his grave as it is near my uncle. Richard died the year I was born.
Witness accounts (later as affidavits) state his flights were “after, during or before” certain events like weather, wars, visits, the teacher etc. Some of these put his flight as 1902 but they were uncontrolled flights. But it is recorded that his first controlled flight was March 1903. As he was doing this in a remote part of the South Island away from the world eyes and media communication, he got pushed aside.
This clip can be watched on You Tube by clicking on the link.