I keep coming back to the question – why here?
The Maori were not saints. Before Europeans arrived, they deforested much of their land and they hunted several species to extinction. They were warriors and cannibals. Yet today, while much of the world is digging a deeper hole for itself, New Zealand seems to be building a mountain of hope. In the mid 19th century, when European settlement began in earnest, Maori culture was threatened by disease, foreign ideas and new technologies.
But the 20th century, the culture came dangerously close to capsizing. But one place where tradition and sustainable practices have triumphed is the irrepressible town of Kaikoura, on the east coast of the South Island. The town sits on a peninsula cradled by shimmering mountains and seas. Just as two cultures crashed together – European and Maori – two ocean currents converge here. One -Subtropical, the other – South Antarctic.
For many years, the town of Kaikoura struggled economically and young Maori fled to larger cities for work. But by digging into their own myths, the people of this peninsula have reinvented their home as a center of whale watching, prompting an economic revival and attracting the young back to make a good living, while honoring their heritage.