TV show looks at lost opportunities
‘‘But world economics and other factors kicked into play and Oamaru was very quickly left behind, it was like a tide had come in and briefly flooded the place with money and work and all sorts of investments and enthusiasm and just as quickly the tide went out .’’
Today, the Victorian architecture and lime stone buildings are like a fossilised glimpse of Victorian New Zealand.
‘‘Seamstresses and tailors are making Victorian-style clothes and you see some quite eccentric people out strolling around with their crinoline dresses and their tweed suits and the top hats and parasols, and they’re out wondering about, it’s like a film set.
‘‘It’s amazing. This is my fourth trip to New Zealand and I had never heard of people even mention Oamaru before. It’s off the beaten track even for Kiwis, most of the crew I was working with had never been there.
‘‘To say its worth a visit is an understatement.’’
The South Island town captured Oliver’s heart while filming for the third series exploring the coastlines of New Zealand. This time, he explored areas around Wellington, North Otago, Kaipara, Chatham Island, the West Coast and Bay Of Plenty.
He and six New Zealand experts in marine biology, history and social history uncover and explore stories about ‘‘anything and everything that happens on the coast’’.
‘‘It can be how people lived there, how people make a living there, it can be about industry, it can be about the history of the place, why a given town or a bay was settled 100 or 500 years ago,’’ Oliver explained.
‘‘We consider the Ma¯ ori story as well as the European story. We look at water, natural history, we look at the creatures and the plants - anything - it’s just about what it is that makes the coast a unique and dynamic fascinating environment.’’
It was a necessary task to look back on what has happened in order to move forward and survive with change, particularly with climate change, he explained.
‘‘For example, some of the first people settled in a part of the coast because it was ideal for them when they arrived - maybe the water was deep enough or shallow enough or the right kind of fish were there.
‘‘Then, because of the environmental factors that come into play, sometimes harbours become silted up so that ships can’t come in anymore, a species can move away to another part or it can become extinct, climate change is happening now - but it has happened in the past.
‘‘When we look back and we see the way that people have always had to be adaptable, and imaginative when it comes to dealing with change, then that can help us to inform our future because we know already that the environment and climate are changing and we can be ready for it.’’ And not just in this era. Part of season three dives into the annual and incredible migration of the Godwit species and how they might have inspired the discovery of NZ by the early explorer and founder of NZ, Kupe, and his fellow explorers.
Every year, about 80,000 Godwit make the long journey between New Zealand, China and the Arctic circle.
Oliver explained the small birds go up to Alaska to have their chicks and will stay there until the chicks are self sufficient.
The adult birds eat to double their size and then fly a non stop journey all the way back to New Zealand - about 12,875km.
‘‘They don’t sit on the water, they don’t take a break, they just fly for that entire journey. It’s the longest non stop flight taken by any bird on planet Earth,’’ Oliver said.
‘‘Five or six days and nights of non stop flying, and they don’t sleep, they just flap - flap, flap, flap.’’
It was supposedly that journey that caught the attention of Kupe, in his homeland of Hawaiki, as he watched the small birds cross south over the island at the same time every year.
‘‘Human curiosity, being what it is, they followed the Godwits. They figured, they must be going somewhere,’’ Oliver said.
‘‘That was part of what inspired the great polynesian migrations because they were following the birds on the expectation that they must land somewhere.’’
airs on TVNZ 1 on Sunday April 22 at 8pm, and OnDemand.
British TV presenter Neil Oliver hosts Coast New Zealand.