[MARMAM] Whaling in NZ

Mark Seabrook M.N.Seabrook-Davidson at massey.ac.nz
Sun Nov 27 11:41:40 PST 2005


A colleague, Karin Stockin suggested I post this request on MARMAM. My area of study is NZ's threatened wildlife (PhD at Massey University).


I am hoping you can help me with some information. I have a suspicion that rats were introduced to NZ prior to their escape from Cook's ship.


Tasman was the first European to record the existence of New Zealand but did not make landfall. Before the European settlers became aware of the large populations of seals and whales around NZ, the Maori had already become accomplished whalers. Subsequently, many of the crews on the European whalers were Maori.


It is highly likely that whaling ships from Europe were catching whales in New Zealand waters long before the discovery voyages of Tasman, Cook and the French explorers. If so, I suspect they would have conducted some level of processing onshore, hence the introduction of rats to NZ.


Is anyone aware of any publications or records that suggest/document whaling activities in NZ waters prior to 1640?


If this is the case, it means that invasive species such as rats may have already been having an effect on NZ's biodiversity before Cook arrived. 


Many thanks for your help. Mark


Mark Seabrook-Davison
Ecology & Conservation
Institute of Natural Resources
Building 5
Massey University
PB 102904
North Shore Mail Centre
Ph: (64) 9 414-0800 x 41197
Fax (64) 9 443-9790
Mob: (021) 2161500
email: m.n.seabrook-davidson at massey.ac.nz

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