Sunday, May 17, 2009
This is one of the scarlet-crowned parakeets that we saw flying around on Somes Island. We've also seen the tui (another bird that you won't see in Minnesota), and we got a live Portuguese Man-o-war from the beach yesterday.
After two very informative meetings with the environmental activist/scholar Cath Wallace, and representatives of the Department of Conservation in Wellington, and a full day of visiting the National museum here--called Te Papa--we picked up our 4 vans, and headed north up the west coast of the north island to the beach community of Paekakariki where we are staying at a "holiday park." The landscape is spectacular already--steep hills descending down to the shore--and we aren't even to the "dramatic" part yet.
At night the stars are all different, which, as much as anything, makes me realize we're in a very different part of the world. We saw the Southern Cross last night, and will be looking up more of the stars as we go.
Today we met with a Maori Member of Parliament named Rahui Katene, who talked with use all about the Maori culture and role and goals in government. There is a strong sense of injustice and a desire for righting the wrongs of the past, which centers of the Treaty of Waitangi, signed by the British and Maori in 1840. It is an ongoing struggle to find some sense of common ground and equal partnership between Maori and Pakeha (non-Maori Kiwis). Dr. Pita Sharples, the head of the Maori Party, and major figure in New Zealand politics also stopped by and talked with us for a bit, which was a great treat.
This afternoon we head off for a meeting with the foreign ministry to hear more about climate change policy. We've had a pretty hectic pace so far, and not much time to write, but we'll slow down a bit once we get out of the city.