November 2011


The excellent UK site History and Policy carries a paper by Ben Cowell, written earlier this year, in the wake of the UK government’s proposal to sell off much of the public forest estate. There was a public outcry, which appeared to take the government by surprise. Cowell suggests that had policy-makers been more aware of the history of contestation regarding rights and access to forest, the government would not only have been more prepared, but may also have formulated its proposal differently. (more…)

I feel slightly embarrassed to admit this (and therefore perhaps shouldn’t), but I have only recently discovered the cartographic and other visual delights which lie between the sturdy covers of the New Zealand Historical Atlas, published in 1997.

Of course, I had seen it referenced many times in scholarship on New Zealand’s environmental history, but (and this is where my less than favourable encounters with high-school geography may be revealed), I had imagined a dusty old book of the traditional style maps that only a dyed-in-the-wool geographer or cartographer would get excited about. (more…)

“Coast” is a novel written by David (Carnegie) Young about three generations of men; their relationships with each other and the wild Rangitikei coast. Strong themes running through the book are ancestry and belonging (and acceptance). The narrative is largely based in the Rangitikei: in the township of Marton and the small beach settlement of Koitiata, near Turakina [click here to view map], spanning from around the turn of the 20th century through to today (or thereabouts).

The Turakina River features prominently in the narrative: as a destructive and unpredictable force which takes life in the dramatic opening scenes of the novel; as a source of food and recreation for Maori and European alike; as an ancestral place for Maori; as a source of historical relics (including shoes of the victims of the Tangiwai train disaster); and, as a dynamic and powerful forger of the landscape. (more…)

In a recent issue of Education Today, Bill Clarkson, a veteran teacher and environmental educator, wrote about nature study in New Zealand and reviewed some of the pioneering literature which influenced how nature study was taught in New Zealand. These books include “New Zealand Nature Study” by W. Martin (1947) and “Nature Study: handbook for teachers”, by D. Beggs (1966). [Click here to read the full article.] (more…)

envirohistory NZ turns two today, having been launched two years ago on 15 November 2009. In the last year it has doubled its hits, getting nearly 40,000 over the last 12 months, compared to 20,000 in its first 12 months of life. Just like a small child, it is growing and learning all the time.

A big THANK YOU to all our subscribers, regular visitors and occasional visitors. Without your visits, comments and feedback, this website would have no purpose. Please accept a virtual piece of birthday cake from the team at envirohistory NZ

Next week’s New Zealand Historical Association Conference features a special four-person panel dedicated to environmental history. The panel is entitled: “History shaping the future: how environmental history research can inform environmental policy and management”, and will feature papers by Professors Katie Pickles and Eric Pawson (both from Canterbury University), Professor Tom Brooking (Otago University) and Dr Catherine Knight (envirohistory NZ). (more…)

I have learned a few things while reading “Seeds of Empire”, by Tom Brooking and Eric Pawson, including the definitions of some terms that crop up a bit in environmental history literature (see also: How did the Korean War change the NZ┬álandscape?). One example of this is in Robert Peden’s essay “Pastoralism and the transformation of open grasslands” (Chapter 5).

Using Mount Peel Station* in central Canterbury as a case study, Peden explains how pastoralism transformed much of the eastern hillcountry (or rangelands, as he refers to them) of the South Island, and seeks also to debunk a few myths about the impacts of pastoralism while he is at it (specifically, about the role of pastoralism in rabbit infestations and burning as a management tool). (more…)

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