“River Birmingham” – a powerful environmental history in a poem

This image courtesy of www.geograph.org.uk, has a caption that reads: The River Rea alongside Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham This section of the Rea is canalised, and has a walkway alongside that nobody uses, people preferring to walk through the park instead.

This image courtesy of http://www.geograph.org.uk, has a caption that reads: The River Rea alongside Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham
This section of the Rea is canalised, and has a walkway alongside that nobody uses, people preferring to walk through the park instead.

In my exploration of different ways of writing about our relationship with the environment, I embarked on a search for poems about rivers. First and foremost, my interest was in poems describing New Zealand rivers, but then I stumbled across a poem by English poet Roy Fisher. Entitled “River Birmingham”, it is the story of the rivers (the River Tame and the River Rea) that run through the highly industrialised city of Birmingham.

This poem is an environmental history. Continue reading

The front lawn – how has this New Zealand institution fared in the Big Dry?

Our "front lawn" today

Our “front lawn” today

In New Zealand, we have recently experienced one of the most prolonged periods of drought since records began, and a number of regions in New Zealand have now been declared as officially in drought. We live in Kapiti, a coastal area where there is less rain and more sun than many parts of New Zealand. On top of that, we have very sandy, porous soils, which makes growing some things quite challenging. Continue reading

Wild rivers

rafting

River rafting. Source: http://www.riverrats.co.nz

I recently had the great pleasure to read John Mackay’s book “Wild rivers”, published in 1978, in which he recounts with remarkable descriptive detail the rafting adventures he and his mates had during the 1970s. He describes adventures on the Upper Buller Gorge, the middle Clarence, the Motu, the Wanganui, and the Karamea – all undertaken on home-made rafts, constructed using inner tyre tubes, timber and ropes, with accessories such as life-jackets either borrowed or improvised. Continue reading

envirohistory NZ – 2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 34,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 13 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

New issue of Environment and Nature in New Zealand now out!

deerJust released: Environment and Nature in New Zealand Vol 9 No 2

Includes the following articles and book reviews:

Alistair McMechan, “Timber Town: A History of Port Craig”

Simon Canaval, “The Story of the Fallow Deer: An Exotic Aspect of British Globalisation” Continue reading

Counting ducks

Female Paradise shelduck and duckling

Female Paradise shelduck and duckling

This is the time of year that you find yourself compulsively counting ducks.

We live next to an artificially created lake, and it has become home to a wide range of birds  – both indigenous and introduced. But it is the Paradise shelducks that create the most excitement when they produce their little black and white balls of fluff. Continue reading

The story of the “solitary little trout”

Mr Clark with trout. Ref: 1/1-005184-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington.

Mr Clark with trout. Ref: 1/1-005184-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington.

One of the great advantages of the Internet age is that not only is it possible now to find peoples’ PhD theses online, but graduate theses too. In my quest to better understand the acclimatisation of trout and salmon in New Zealand, I came across an honours dissertation by a Canterbury University history student, Jack Kós. Entitled “A most excellent thing”, it documents the introduction of trout to Canterbury in 1867 (the first successful introduction in New Zealand) and the subsequent dissemination of trout throughout New Zealand. Continue reading