At the end of October 2018 a group of six young Kiwis ventured through water off the coast of Victoria, at the heart of Eildon, to claim a small island at the time not even visible on Google Maps.
The island measures a minuscule 670 square feet, but for the first inhabitants it is rich in opportunities and they are not short of ideas for their new home.
The idea did not come out of the blue. Jeremy Shanks, one of the settlers, dreamt up the plan on his daily commute. “Every time I drive to work I see this island. This idea has been haunting me for quite a while now and it was a perfect day,” Shanks told New Zealand Herald, “In my heart, it has been a plan for a few years.”
The island was there, unclaimed, uncharted and ready to be taken as a new home for Shanks and his five bored friends.
The Kiwis had to navigate a tricky route with strong currents to finally reach and conquer the island.
Additionally, the group carried their passports with them as their claim of ownership would make the island a territory of New Zealand, even though previously it officially belonged to Australia.
Once they finally reached the land mass, they erected the New Zealand flag and symbolically claimed the land for themselves and their country.
The previously nameless island is now called New New Zealand Island or short NNZI. According to New Zealand Herald, “An unconfirmed source has told the group the island is actually called Snake Island.”
The tiny island already has three settlements. The first to be established was Jacob’s landing in the northwest, where Jacob Real first set foot. For now, the island adheres to New Zealand laws and it is likely to continue to do so.
According to New Zealand News Hub, Jeremy Shanks claimed: “New Zealand has an army of smaller islands but this will be the first offshore island of its kind. An island of New Zealand completely surrounded by another country; Australia.”
The group has already developed an economic strategy for NNZI. They are planning to base their exports on agriculture and blackberries. “There’s enough for two cows or maybe three sheep,” they told the New Zealand Herald. “We’re thinking to maybe import a totara or maybe a rimu, and we’ll move that onto the island to kind of signify it.”
The introduction of new species is their plan but is still too early as they have some more important issues to settle for now.
They shared their experience on social media to get the attention of Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand. They needed her advice on how to regulate the visa system.
Their wish is for foreigners to have to apply for an official New Zealand visa to visit their new home. Australians would be exempt from officially applying for an entrance permit — they would, however, have to fill out a customs form upon their arrival.
Furthermore, the group are trying to get the island onto Google maps under its new name.
News Zealand News Hub reports Shanks words: “Australians, we are not here for war. We are just seeking recognition of our newly-found land.”
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The Australian government did not respond to any of this and the settlers are now regularly monitoring their new territory and preparing for next steps.