NZ Life & Leisure - - News -

NEW ZEALANDERS, LIKE the res­i­dents of many other small coun­tries, of­ten el­e­vate them­selves and boast about the land. “Oh yes, it’s the most beau­ti­ful coun­try in the world/we’re the clever­est peo­ple on the planet/ our ath­letes are the best...” Well, we’re not. Pa­tri­o­tism boil­ing over into smug­ness about our unique ca­pa­bil­i­ties and in­cred­i­ble coun­try makes me ner­vous. We’d bet­ter be jolly care­ful to pro­tect our land and be pre­pared to fight for clean wa­ter. Tourists come a long way to get here, and they’re our big­gest ex­port dol­lar earner. Let’s make sure they are not dis­ap­pointed. A friend, just re­turned from a 12-week OE, cal­cu­lates it is cheaper – by far – to be a tourist in Europe than it is to travel around New Zealand. And he was talk­ing Paris and Lon­don, not ob­scure des­ti­na­tions. And, we owe a duty of care to our planet and fu­ture gen­er­a­tions to nei­ther de­stroy the en­vi­ron­ment nor leave it on a path of guar­an­teed degra­da­tion. We have the power in our own hands on th­ese very is­sues as we vote at the up­com­ing gen­eral elec­tion. Yes, there are ex­tra­or­di­nary as­pects to New Zealand and New Zealanders. I ac­knowl­edge that and, in fact, this mag­a­zine is uniquely skilled at find­ing in­ter­est­ing peo­ple do­ing ex­tra­or­di­nary things. What goes into a bril­liant New Zealan­der? Good ques­tion. Is it cul­ture and education? The coun­try’s iso­la­tion? Our sup­posed can- do at­ti­tude? Grow­ing ev­i­dence points to some­thing more ba­sic than that: our soil – the dirt be­neath our boots. The unique mi­croflora of our phys­i­cal land – and the food we eat – may well be the build­ing blocks of our great­ness. Bril­liant sci­en­tist ( yes, she is) Iona Weir (meet her on page 96) says the bac­te­ria and fungi in Aotearoa’s soil, de­vel­oped since our land mass broke away from Gond­wana 80 mil­lion years ago, is the rea­son our na­tive plants pack such a pow­er­ful punch. Yes, that aw­ful ex­pres­sion “punch­ing above their weight” is apt for our plants. Take manuka – es­pe­cially that grown on the East Cape. It is many times more po­tent in an­timi­cro­bial prop­er­ties than sim­i­lar Aus­tralian plants. That’s great for our manuka honey ex­porters and for those us­ing manuka oil in their prod­ucts. Manuka is a world­wide suc­cess story. And now av­o­ca­dos have also come into the sunny spot­light for their su­per­star prop­er­ties. It was thought that all av­o­ca­dos were cre­ated about equal – as in equally nu­tri­tious and de­li­cious. Not so. Yes, they are as close to the per­fect food as any­thing we know but, drum roll please, New Zealand’s av­o­ca­dos are 20 per cent higher in fo­late (great for preg­nant women) as their Cal­i­for­nian cousins and twice as high in vi­ta­min B6. (Read more about the av­o­cado story on our web­site, thisn­zlife.co.nz.) Time to cel­e­brate the magic in both the air and in the soil.

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