‘In the midst of a prodigious ocean’, as one European explorer described them, the Kermadec Islands lie 1000 kilometres north of New Zealand and form our northern bastion. They are the result of the collision between two of the earth’s major tectonic plates, being the tips of volcanoes thrust up from the ocean floor by these massive geological forces.
This is the story of the islands: their unique flora and fauna; the attempts at settlement (both Polynesian and European); their uses both in war and peace; and the restoration of their ecosystems which is proceeding today.
It is a dramatic story of storms, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and other events that have beset efforts to make use of the islands, but through all of these the human spirit has shone through.
Review from NZ Forest and Bird magazine (November 2013)
“In the midst of a prodigious ocean” half way between the Bay of Plenty and Tonga, lie the Kermadec islands, the visible portion of remnant volcanic cones that form part of the Kermadec arm of sub-marine volcanoes. All of the islands are nature reserves and surrounded by a 12 nautical-mile marine reserve. The largest of these sub-tropical islands is Raoul (Rangitahua), our largest pōhutukawa-clad island and, as the only island with a permanent water supply, the only to have been inhabited by humans. These are the stories of these islands and the people, from early voyagers, slavers, whalers, remarkable settlers to scientific expeditions, courageous conservationists and adventurers, the pioneers who have impacted upon and in turn been affected by the islands. They are engaging stories richly told, cohesively drawn together from disparate sources, archives and personal letters and anecdotes. The author, in his non-judgemental way, allows us to connect with the personalities, their hopes and aspirations, with a sense of wonder that generates an enthusiasm for the flora and fauna and this enigmatic volcanic landscape that is both a serene paradise and volatile foe. The encyclopaedic and chronological text is richly enhanced with numerous photos, maps and illustrations. It’s a fascinating journey through history that excites our appetite for discovery and highlights the vitality and importance of these islands and their surrounding seas.