Gorse: a prickly subject

Mission farm

Mission farm The Church Missionary Society mission set up at Waimate, in the inland Bay of Islands, in 1830, included a large farm with sheep, cattle, horses, gardens and orchards. Alexander Turnbull Library Reference: PUBL-0144-1-330 Wood engraving by Cyprian Bridge Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

The special March issue of Environment and Nature in New Zealand contains seven articles – all by graduates of Otago University’s history department (see also: In search of Arcadia?). As the editor’s introduction states, these essays represent the most concentrated research effort in relation to environmental history of any history department in the country, and are well worth a read.

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When is a fence not a fence?

I have been reading The Life and Times of Sir James Wilson of Bulls, by L. J. Wild recently. James Wilson, an immigrant from Scotland, was a pioneering sheep farmer in the Rangitikei in the late 1800s.

Reading his diary entries from the days when he was in the early stages of developing of Ngaio Farm, just east of Bulls, it is clear that fencing was a major consideration when establishing a farm – and the types of fences common at that time would not necessarily be familiar to us today. Continue reading

Weeds – the great European invasion

As Bee Dawson relates in “A history of gardening in New Zealand”, when Europeans began to settle in earnest in New Zealand in the early to mid-19th century, they not only brought with them “productive” plants,  but many other plants, which soon became invasive “weeds”. Continue reading