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Washington, United States
loves: you win if you guessed "pets" and "museums". Also books, art history, travel, British punk, Korean kimchi, bindis, martinis, and other things TBD. I will always make it very clear if a post is sponsored in any way. Drop me a line at thepetmuseum AT gmail.com !

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

the happy life of pigs in old new zealand

A selection from a survey of natural history written in 1870. The "Captain King" referred to here would seem to be Captain Henry King, "first Commissioner of Taranaki" and an early white settler. Usually when a non-native species is introduced to a small ecological system disaster ensues (see rabbits, Australia); does anyone know whether the New Zealand pigs returned all this affection with good results for their new island home?

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Perhaps the oddest amusement with which the New Zealanders have ever recreated themselves is one that only occurred some sixty years ago, and is not likely to be reproduced. About that date Captain King took away two New Zealanders to Norfolk Island for the purpose of teaching the settlers the art of flax-dressing.

When he came back to restore them to their homes, he planted a quantity of maize, which was then new in the country, and presented the natives with three pigs. Most of them had never seen any animal larger than a cat, and the others, who had a vague recollection of seeing horses on board Captain Cook's vessel, naturally mistook them for those animals. Thinking them to be horses, they treated them as horses, and speedily rode two of them to death. The third did not come to a better end, for it strayed into a burial ground, and was killed by the indignant natives.

Nowadays the Maories understand pigs far too well to ride them. Pigs have become quite an institution in New Zealand. Every village is plentifully populated with pigs...Little pigs may be seen tottering about the houses, and the natives, especially the women, pet pigs exactly as European women pet dogs and cats. They carry them in their arms, fondle and pet them; and nothing is more common than to see a young girl unfold her mantle and discover a pig nestling under its folds.

- From The natural history of man: being an account of the manners and customs of the uncivilized races of men(Argh! That title! - Curator), John George Wood (London: Georeg Routledge and Sons, 1870) Volume 2 p. 135-136

1 comment:

parlance said...

I don't know whether pigs are a problem in NZ. I wonder if those petted pigs ended up as dinner.