Sunday, May 18, 2008

I Am A Rock, I Am An Island

One of the natural icons in Nelson is Fifeshire Rock. It is named for an English sailing ship. Here is the history lesson:

February 1st 1842.

Fifeshire was one of the first four ships on her maiden voyage when bringing out settlers of the New Zealand Company to Nelson.

The Fifeshire was an unlucky boat from the start. During the voyage, fever broke out and 17 passengers died, their bodies being buried at sea.

After disembarking passengers and discharging cargo the ship was cleared for China but unfortunately never made it out of Nelson Harbour. On the morning of 27th February, the wind failed, and the tide carried her on Arrow Reef.

Strenuous efforts were made to get her off, but it was useless and at low water she was lying nearly high and dry. Her hull could not stand the strain and her back was badly broken. She was condemned and sold for breaking up.

So this outcrop, Arrow Reef, which rises out of the bay near the harbor, looks sort of like a boat and was renamed Fifeshire Rock. Everyone here knows the story.

Sometime in the past, either the wind or the intestinal track of a bird deposited a seed onto the rock. This tiny seed was nurtured by guano from the seagulls and took hold. Against the odds, a cabbage tree sprung out of the craggy surface and has remained as a symbol of stubborn survival for all who pass.

That is, until a few weeks ago.

In a seedy hotel bed, some 20 years ago, another germ was planted, but this one in the womb of a woman. That bud grew into a large piece of human guano named Josh Ellery.

On April 25, Anzac day, a national holiday like Veteran's Day, Ellery and a few cabbage headed mates drank up 3 cases of beer, stole some kayaks and ventured out into the harbor. Like Everest conqueror, Edmund Hillary, Ellery scaled Fifeshire Rock. At the peak, he yanked and twisted the little tree until it became uprooted. Then he waved it over his head like a flag for all to see. As a final triumphant gesture, he tossed the tiny plant into the water, never to be seen again.

Sadly, for him, plenty were there to witness the event. Shocked onlookers on shore quickly alerted Nelson's constable who drove over and nabbed the evildoers when they rowed ashore.

Since the arrest, Mr. Ellery is awaiting trial and he has become repentant. A remorseful letter was written to the newspaper and he also had a replacement tree planted at his expense.
Strangely, in addition to the replant, 2 other cabbage trees have arrived. One was snuck in during the night by an (anonymous) friend of Kimberly's. Another was brought in by a generous lawyer.
Can you say oxymoron?
So there are now 3 cabbage trees on Fifeshire Rock.
None are expected to survive. But a rock feels no pain and an island never cries.


At 1:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When you mix alcohol with stupidity things like this always seem to happen. I hope that this young man receives some community service to include planting trees for a few months.
Thank you for an informative and well written piece of Nelson lore.

At 4:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

always love learning more about your wonderful island. getting into the 100s here - lovely...if one enjoys sweating out bullets, but oh well. love robin

At 8:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

whats up pussys its josh ellery here, it was only a tree and it didnt have felings. cry all you want it aint coming back. its not very nice calling me a germ i have feelings unlike that tree. peace. DMC (dirty mot crew)


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