Zealandia: Our Continent Revealed
by Nick Mortimer and Hamish Campbell (Penguin, $60)
Reviewed by Simon Nathan
Looking back over my geological career, I realise how lucky I was to be a working scientist during the later part of the twentieth century when ideas on the nature of the Earth underwent a revolution. When I was a student in the early 1960s, the idea of continental drift was regarded by many people as laughable. Twenty years later the concept of plate tectonics was widely accepted, and it started to be appreciated that the older rocks in New Zealand were a fragment of the ancient Gondwana continent. This book is an excellent account of how New Zealand is part of the largely submerged continent of Zealandia, now the world’s seventh continent, extending from New Caledonia in the north to Campbell Island in the south.
In reviewing this book, I should note at the outset that I know the authors, which is hardly surprising in the small geoscience community in this country. Indeed, as both of them have played a leading role in developing ideas on the nature of continental New Zealand, it would be difficult to find a reviewer who did not know them, and many of the other scientists who feature in this volume.