Mavis and Rolland Adams were expecting their first child, not their first UFO.
It was the summer of 1960, and the future had arrived. Barry Crump was being published, women were on juries, and television had arrived in New Zealand. In secluded Maraetai, a couple were trying to escape the hustle and bustle of this new world – and glimpsed another one entirely.
Mavis and Rolland Adams had found a quiet spot on the beach and laid back to take in the air, but something took their breath instead. The harsh sun glinted off metal that hung between sparse clouds, thousands of feet up.
“That’s what put your eye there,” Rolland remembers, “there were a couple of things up there, aircraft of some kind. They must have been thousands of feet up. It made you think – what the hell is that?”
Mavis agrees: “I just thought – what’s going on? And then one of them shot off.”
The memory of speeding metal jolts Rolland, who suddenly barks with the anger of a man disbelieved for 50 years: “I definitely saw it.”
“We both did,” Mavis confirms, “he didn’t have it all on his own.”
I ask why they shot off, and the two octogenarians agree: “I reckon they saw us and thought, ‘oh no, we don’t want anything to do with that lot’. That’s when they took off.”
Mavis continues her conjecture (the accuracy of which we cannot confirm): “There’s probably a big sign out there somewhere, ‘DO NOT DISTURB THE THIRD PLANET FROM THE SUN. THEY ARE USELESS PEOPLE.’”
The way they speak makes it clear the two think these crafts were operated by extra-terrestrials. It’s a reasonable conclusion. There were few satellites up at the time, and certainly none that would hang motionless in the ionosphere for fifteen minutes and then “shoot off”.
Why do they think they haven’t seen another UFO? “Well,” suggests Mavis, “it’s getting really messy up there.” Roland elaborates on the problem of space junk: “Locally, it’s very busy. There’s thousands of tons of stuff going around the Earth. That’s not a good sign [for ETs]. It’s a bit off.”
He also has a second reason they might not want to return: “1960 was about the time they were experimenting with atomic bombs and what-have-you, and I thought that if there were any people out there who saw these things happening they’d probably think ‘hmm, I think we’ll leave them to blow themselves up.’”
He’s right. The decade surrounding 1960 was a poor look for Earth. In New Zealand, our All Blacks went on tour and infamously left behind all Maori players to meet South African regulations. Overseas, the U.S. went to war in Vietnam and the French began testing nuclear weapons. If we couldn’t even get along with each other, what chance did other species stand?
The majority of UFO sightings since – in NZ and elsewhere – have been brief and distant. Are they checking in to see if we’re ready to talk? Or are they seeing if we’ve “blown ourselves up” yet?
“I’m not sure which option I prefer,” ponders Mavis, “probably the second one. We wouldn’t listen anyway.”