reader contributions


By David Carnegie Young

All my life I had driven through the village, the great iron gates to its cemetery and  spreading oaks speaking of a larger, lost past. From the 1950s I’d watched the gradual decline of a place that, long before my life, had been so much more. There was the smithy, whose hanging door I recall one day remained shut, the shops with their arthritic verandas, old houses that became hidden behind brambles as they staggered under the weight of vegetation and age. The village’s human edges greened and frayed until it was little more than a hamlet. Yet its centre survived.

There was still the Ben Nevis pub, Harry Stirling’s old garage, two churches, a graveyard on the hill and a broken necklace of 1860s wayside architecture where wayfarers might stop for a pie or sandwich and even a browse. (more…)

Everyone has environmental histories to share (for example, see The lawn mower Part 2 – an enduring relationship). These are stories about our interactions with the environment, and the realisations we make from these. For instance, older people in Kapiti have shared how they used to row boats down the Waikanae River as children (but how now, the water is reduced to a trickle for much of the year and any kind of boating activity would prove a challenge). Or, people may remember catching eels or freshwater crayfish in the creek down the back of the farm as a child — a much less common children’s pastime today… (more…)

The article on lawn-mowing has drawn a lot of interest, and the following is a contribution from an envirohistory NZ follower, Paul Knight (now 74) who has demonstrated that he has had an enduring association with the lawn mower:

This is a photo of me in 1936, at 14 months, “mowing” the lawns on my grandparents’ one acre property in Pt Chevalier, Auckland. In fact, I did end up with lawn-mowing duties – I mowed gannie and gampie’s lawns from primary school age right through to when I went to university. I used to run there and back from Mt Eden, where I lived. (more…)

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