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'In the midst of a prodigious ocean', as one European explorer described them, the Kermadec Islands lie 1000 kilometres north of New Zealand and form its northern bastion. They are the result of the collision between two of the earth's major tectonic plates, being the tips of volcanoes thrust up from the ocean floor by these massive geological forces. This is the story of the islands: their unique flora and fauna; the attempts at settlement (both Polynesian and European); their uses both in war and peace; and the restoration of their ecosystems which is proceeding today. It is a dramatic story of storms, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and other events that have beset efforts to make use of the islands, but through all of these the human spirit has shone through.
Steven Gentry trained as a civil engineer, but has always had an interest in the natural world. His career in consulting engineering led him into the far corners of the developing world and particularly the South Pacific. His experiences led to directorships in the wider corporate scene, but all the while his interest in the history and the flora and fauna of the Pacific continued unabated. Steve's curiosity about the Kermadecs was whetted when Heritage Expeditions announced their first visit to the islands in the Spirit of Enderby in 2005. He was an enthusiastic participant, and in preparing for the visit realised how much disparate information was available about the islands that had never been drawn together in any form. Five years ago his thoughts turned to writing a history of the Kermadecs, and as he will tell you, it has been a fascinating journey.