The lady and the possum

A brush-tailed opossum in the care of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Negatives of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: EP/1957/0147-F. Alexander Turnbull Library.

A brush-tailed opossum in the care of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Negatives of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: EP/1957/0147-F. Alexander Turnbull Library.

In my search for an image for the previous post, I stumbled across this photographic treasure from 1957: a possum in the care of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Knowing what we know today about the destructive impact of these furry marsupials, it is easy to dismiss this image as a quaint artefact of a misguided era.

But perhaps this caring woman knows better.

A possum is an animal worthy of the same humane treatment that any household pet deserves – it is only by virtue of being in the wrong place (through our actions) that it has become a ‘pest’ of such magnitude.

Possums “doing good in the bush”

possum

The opossum. A ground berry-eater, that helps build fences!

In a similar vein to my previous post about the little German owl, I found another insightful gem about possums, from the official report of the 15th national conference of acclimatisation societies in 1926:

“The Government had appointed Professor Kirk to inquire into opossums and the Forestry Department had also appointed an independent man. Both had come to the conclusion, namely, that opossums did no damage to Native trees. [The President] knew himself that the boards looking after certain scenic reserves had been able to obtain quite a large revenue from the opossums,* and had been thus able to fence the reserves, so that in that way the opossums were doing good in the bush.” Continue reading

Was the little German owl really a ruthless killer, or was this a case of ‘ecological racism’?

A German owl. Looks pretty harmless to me!

A German owl. Looks pretty harmless to me!

While perusing historical minute books of the New Zealand acclimatisation societies, I came across this gem, from the ‘Presidential address’ at their national conference in 1932:

“The German owl was killing out a tremendous number of native birds, and it should be the duty of the societies to wage war upon it. There was a division of opinion concerning the magpie, which was useful to farmers, but his society considered that only definitely proved killers should be destroyed.” Continue reading

The river as a metaphor

wairau-riverMy call out for poems about New Zealand rivers got an immediate response! Thank you to a certain olive farmer of Awatere Valley, who alerted me to this poem by Eileen Duggan. Certainly one from the “river as a metaphor” file – for love, in this case. The metaphors come thick and fast in this one! Continue reading

Poems about New Zealand rivers

riverI am on a hunt … for poems about New Zealand rivers.

I have found a few by some of our well-known poets:

“The river in you” by Brian Turner

“Rangitikei River song” by Sam Hunt

Clutha V” by Denis Glover

And I am sure there are many others, though I am not sure how to find them, apart from searching through endless anthologies, or asking people much more widely read than I am (hint!). Continue reading

“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