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Woman paddling in dugout canoe in Jone's Lagoon, Karere, c1905. Palmerston North City Library, 2007N_Lo27_BRW_0609

Woman paddling in dugout canoe in Jone’s Lagoon, Karere, c1905. Palmerston North City Library, 2007N_Lo27_BRW_0609

One aspect of the Manawatu’s environmental history which I completely neglected in my book Ravaged Beauty: an environmental history of the Manawatu, was recreational canoeing on the Manawatu River. Yet I have since discovered that it had a most illustrious history, according to Murray Fyfe’s history of recreational canoeing in New Zealand, published in 1972. (more…)

rat eating egg

Black rat eating a thrush egg

This dramatic photograph shows a black rat eating a thrush egg. This common rat species (Rattus rattus, otherwise known as a bush, roof or ship rat) is one of three that has long made its home in New Zealand. (more…)

Plan of lagoons and channels dug by Maori at the mouth of the Wairau River, drawn by J.L. D'Arcey Irvine. Alexander Turnbull Library, MapColl 832.2gmtb [pre-1840] Acc. 120

Plan of lagoons and channels dug by Maori at the mouth of the Wairau River, published by W. L. Skinner in 1912. Alexander Turnbull Library, MapColl 832.2gmtb [pre-1840] Acc. 120

In 1963, a major engineering feat was completed on the Wairau River, in the Marlborough district: the Wairau diversion.  The diversion created two Wairau Rivers, one following its original course, which meanders south-east into a network of lagoons, before reaching Cloudy Bay at Wairau Bar. The “new Wairau River” was a channel that connected the river through a cut eastwards to the sea. (more…)

A fairy prion resting on our kitchen bench

There are probably not many who can claim to have had a fairy in the kitchen, but we can. We came home after work today to find an unexpected visitor: a small grey bird with webbed feet huddled in the backyard. Our border collie had been considerately keeping it company. We brought the little chap inside out of the weather into a towel-lined box, an arrangement he seemed perfectly happy with. (more…)

Christchurch, 1860, showing Avon River in the middle ground and Worcester Bridge in the background. Alexander Turnbull Library, ref. 1/2-022720-F

Christchurch, 1860, showing Avon River and Worcester Bridgein the middle ground. Alexander Turnbull Library, ref. 1/2-022720-F

I have been trawling historic newspapers in Papers Past in my efforts to research early European attitudes to New Zealand’s rivers. In the course (unintended pun) of doing so, I stumbled upon a report on the drainage of the city, submitted to the Christchurch City Council in 1864 by the City Surveyor. It is illuminating given the city’s struggle with flooding following the Canterbury earthquakes. (more…)

Waterfall of Waterfall Road, Kapiti.

Waterfall of Waterfall Road, Kapiti.

Longtime envirohistory NZ followers might remember how my husband and I stumbled upon the international phenomenon of geocaching entirely by accident (see Hidden treasure at Otaki Gorge). Geocaching involves searching for caches that have been hidden by members of the worldwide geocaching community, using GPS coordinates and other clues. (more…)

Avon River, Christchurch

A “pleasant” river, complete with punts: Avon River through Christchurch

Reading Andrew McRae’s paper “Fluvial Nation: rivers, mobility and poetry in Early Modern England”, I was struck by its opening statement.

In 1665, the speaker of the House of Commons, addressing the King and Parliament reflected that: “Cosmosgraphers do agree that this Island is incomparably furnished with pleasant Rivers, like Veins in the Natural Body, which conveys the Blood into all the Parts, whereby the whole is nourished, and made useful.” (more…)

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