August 2010


Of all the essays in the recently published Maori and the Environment: Kaitiaki, reviewed in a previous post, the essay that left me with one of the strongest lasting impressions was the second chapter. This essay tells the story of a hapu’s attempts to exercise kaitiakitanga (environmental stewardship) over Hokio Stream and Lake Horowhenua, west of the Horowhenua township of Levin [click here to view map]. (more…)

Radio New Zealand’s “Country Life” programme is a favourite of mine – as a born-and-bred “townie” – I enjoy the insights it provides into living off the land – whether as a farmer, horticulturalist, or cottage industry owner. The programme also features stories which provide important insights from an environmental history perspective.

The most recent programme features a story about a southern Waikato farmer who, after growing up seeing the lowland indigenous forest around her town decimated by forestry, is covenanting 4 hectares of remnant bush on her farm in Mamaku [click here to view location] to ensure its future preservation. The bush is dominated by tawa, rimu and kahikatea, and is one of the last surviving remnants on this ignimbrite plateau which was once covered in dense forest. (more…)

In a follow-up to the story on the Waikanae River restoration project, the Kapiti man behind this remarkable transformation from “wasteland” to “wetland”, John Topliff has this month received an award from Forest and Bird for his contribution to conservation in New Zealand. (more…)

“Maori and the environment: Kaitiaki” is a recently published book comprised of 19 essays by Maori scholars and environmental practitioners, all exploring the impact of changes in the environment on Maori, as well as the way in which Maori have attempted (often successfully – sometimes not) to affect change in the way the environment is managed in New Zealand. (more…)

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Having recently read Beyond the Scene: landscape and identity in Aotearoa New Zealand one particular anecdote stood out for me (see also: Landscape and identity in NZ). This anecdote is important for two reasons: one, it provides a salutary reminder that destruction of our indigenous forest cannot simply be relegated to a long-passed and unenlightened chapter of our history – in fact, it has continued into recent decades. But the anecdote also has a more uplifting lesson, reminding us of the old adage that out of adversity arises opportunity: that the most devastating circumstances, can, with the right mix of leadership, commitment and persistence, give rise to an outcome that brings benefits that in time outweigh the initial loss. (more…)

A little late, but hopefully none the worse for it, here are the top five posts for the second quarter of 2010. Two of this quarter’s top 5 were also in the top 5 in the first quarter: Our favourite Californian – the history of the Radiata Pine forestry in NZ came in at number 1 last quarter, while Manawatu River – pollution concerns date back to 1890 came in at number 2. However, this quarter, they have been upstaged by the history of mining story (more…)

Of all the beautiful landscape photos that highly accomplished photographer and friend Rainer Kant took while he lived in New Zealand, this must be one of my favourites. What is particularly striking about this landscape is that (more…)

Anyone with children under five will probably be cognisant of the fact that while rabbits can be very nice, they can also be very bad -  Bunnytown’s “Little Bad Bunny” is undeniable evidence of this fact.

Also providing ample evidence that rabbits in the wrong place at the wrong time can have a devastating impact on the environment, the economy and peoples’ livelihoods is the rabbit’s history in New Zealand.  Its history here began in the 1830s; the first certain record of its introduction dating to 1838. (more…)

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