New Zealand plants introduced by Chinese?

John Grehan jgrehan at SCIENCEBUFF.ORG
Thu Jul 22 08:55:09 CDT 2004

I haven't read the book. Perhaps I will at some point. However, it is
possible to discuss what was presented on television without reading the
book as the two can stand as independent sources - particularly as the
author was able to argue his case and defend against criticism. I did
find that if the TV presentation was representative of his argument,
then it seems to be very much a plausible argument, that if various
assumptions are accepted then the rest follows and the elimination of
various pieces of evidence become inconsequential. 

Thus, when the author was presented with refutations of several of his
assertions his response was more or less ok but they did not really
change the substance of his thesis. Thus, when it was shown that a
person he said traveled to the New World was actually recalled to China
his response was to say that the fleet would travel under the second in

I noticed that his principle argument for the American discovery was
that early Europeans described the locals as Chinese and therefore that
must be the case - while an alternative reading might be that this was
either a general label due to overall resemblance or the presumption
that the continents were Asian. 

It seems that at least some evidence used in support of the theory could
also be used to support other theories (such as the genetic and
linguistic connections). With respect to New Zealand others on this list
would no doubt have much more specific familiarity. However, on the web
site there is reference to 44 junk wrecks in New Zealand. Some of the
localities are very accessible. I do wonder if such obvious wrecks could
be completely overlooked by the NZ archeological community. One
newspaper review by a person who read the book said that a junk wreck
cited in the book was actually of recent origin.

It did strike me as interesting how the Indian Ocean connections were
substantiated in just the ways one would expect in both documentary and
archeological evidence. I for one am not opposed to the idea of a global
voyage, but the scale of evidence was disappointing. Of course I wish
the orangutan theory could get such traction.

John Grehan

John R. Grehan
Director of Science and Collections
Buffalo Museum of Science
1020 Humboldt Parkway
Buffalo, NY 14211-1193
email: jgrehan at
Phone: (716) 896-5200 ext 372

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Taxacom Discussion List [mailto:TAXACOM at LISTSERV.NHM.KU.EDU] On
> Behalf Of Ken Kinman
> Sent: Thursday, July 22, 2004 12:22 AM
> Subject: [TAXACOM] New Zealand plants introduced by Chinese?
> Dear All,
>       I watched with interest a program on PBS tonight about the ideas
> Gavin Menzies (that a Chinese fleet circumnavigated the world in 1421
> discovered America in the process).  That the Chinese reached South
> seems undisputed, but that they crossed the Atlantic is very much
> (most notably by Chinese scholars).  I must admit I am likewise
> skeptical about the crossing of the Atlantic in 1421.
>       So how does this involve taxonomy, you might ask?  Some of the
> evidence for the Chinese circumnavigation seems to revolve around
> in New Zealand that are thought by some to have been brought there by
> Chinese (especially those which occur in tropical America).  Using
this as
> evidence of a Chinese circumnavigation in 1421 seems rather
> for two reasons: (1) introduction by later Europeans cannot be ruled
> and (2) a Chinese circumnavigation of the Pacific Ocean (NOT of the
> would fit just as well.
>       I am not disputing that Chinese fleets made extensive oceanic
> explorations in the early 15th Century----only that they may have been
> confined to the Indian and Pacific Oceans (and that the Atlantic
> excursions are perhaps a product of Menzies' imagination).  But having
> learned of Menzies' ideas only a few hours ago, I certainly have not
> formed a solid opinion (just my initial reactions as related above).
> Anyway, here is a sampling of the part of the evidence that relates to
> New Zealand flora (and which seems rather flimsy as an argument for a
> Chinese circumnavigation of the world in 1421):
>                   ----Cheers,
>                           Ken Kinman

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