Last century, firearms flooded into New Zealand with returning servicemen, and during peacetime guns became synonymous with an honest, healthy way of life in the hills. Now, there are thought to be 1.5 million firearms in New Zealand—one for every three people—used as conservation or farming tools, or simply for sport. To some, firearms symbolise self-sufficiency and responsibility. To others, they’ll never be more than instruments of death.
But is this issue as clear-cut as it seems?
There is a quiet revolution taking place in rural New Zealand. Over the past decade, migrant labour has become essential to the country’s dairy farms, vineyards and kiwifruit orchards, and as a result, the culture of regional communities is changing. A bustling Sikh temple has opened in Te Puke, songs from Vanuatu warm chilly nights in Central Otago, and in Southland, around 1500 Filipinos are employed on the region’s 900 dairy farms. Yet many new-migrant families lead insecure lives, at the whim of immigration law, their future in this country uncertain.
Across the world, ecosystems have been transformed by the mass extinctions that followed the arrival of humans. In New Zealand, the moa, the world’s largest eagle, sea lions, elephant seals and whales were wiped from the register at lightning speed. How did our megafauna become reduced to lawn ornaments?