For the credulous foreigners who take the cult's tours, Lemuria is evidently a heady place. Here is an excerpt from one tourist's record
of his peculiar pilgrimage through this country:
We are to attempt something which hasn’t been done since 1735, namely to revive an ancient pact with dolphins whereby they drive an ample amount of fish into the bay to feed the people, who agree not to disturb them in return. A ritualist has prepared the scene for our arrival. We direct our gaze into the centre of the bay and send forth the vibrations of our sacred sounds. This also restores an ancient mode of communing and stimulates us to remember the inner depths from which we call. We maintain our chant for roughly twenty minutes. Next day, word has it that the fishermen report a record catch.
That night we engage in further ceremony under the elders’ direction. This involves us men honouring the women of our group by painting their face and hands in a ritual setting of heightened consciousness and expectation. This empowers them to embody and us to serve the Sacred Feminine. The accord seals our collective adoption into the ranks of Waitaha.
A number of New Agers with no obvious connections to the Universal Peace Nation of Waitaha have also used the internet to proclaim New Zealand
a surviving fragment
of the ancient continent of Lemuria.
There is a certain irony to the tendency of twenty-first century mystics to associate New Zealand with humanity's antiquity. Except for Antarctica and a few Arctic islands like Svalbard, New Zealand was the last sizeable piece of dry land to be settled by humans. It is unlikely that people lived here in significant numbers even a thousand years ago.
The newness of New Zealand has fascinated and troubled generations of Pakeha Kiwis. In the middle decades of the twentieth century, poets like Charles Brasch and Allen Curnow were disturbed
by the 'empty hills' and 'silent plains' they perceived in their underpopulated homeland, and sometimes longed for the deep history and big cities which are taken for granted by Europeans.
But not all Pakeha were so melancholy. As James Belich and other historians have shown, the notion that New Zealand was a sort of divine gift to the Anglo-Saxon and Celtic races - a 'better Britain' or 'God's Own Country' in the South Seas - was widely and intensely held by early Pakeha settlers.
For the new wave of believers in the Lemuria myth, though, New Zealand is a sacred country because of its supposed antiquity.
I suspect that the willingness of the latest generation of mystics to associate New Zealand with an ancient civilisation has something to do with both the rebranding
of this country in recent decades
and the mood of Romantic anti-modernism
which has been a feature of Western popular culture during the same period.
At the same time that tens of millions of Westerners have become disillusioned with industrial society and the modern idea of progress, and begun to vote for Green Parties, buy organic veges, and idealise rustic societies like Tibet, movies like Lord of the Rings and advertising campaigns by our Tourism Board have seen New Zealand branded as some sort of antediluvian paradise, full of cheery hobbits, goblin forests, and pure cascading streams. It is surprisingly easy, in this sort of atmosphere, for romantic foreigners to imagine New Zealand as an ancient rather than a very new society - as a surviving fragment of Lemuria, rather than a better Britain. If ancient human societies were paradisal, and if New Zealand is a verdant, pre-industrial paradise, then musn't New Zealand be some remnant of the distant past?