IMG_3280And, in continuation of this ad-hoc series of it’s not always about environmental history, here is a shot of Kapiti Island a few minutes after the previous one.

Sunset South IslandThis is another example  of “it’s not really about environmental history“, but I couldn’t resist sharing this shot taken from Paraparaumu beach at sunset yesterday. In the foreground is Kapiti Island, and in the background is the top of the South Island – a reminder that a not insignificant amount of the South Island is in fact further north than the lower end of the North Island. This maybe highlights the perils of naming a place after a seemingly self-evident geographic characteristic – but then, “Mostly South Island” and “Mostly North Island” does seem a bit clumsy. Perhaps “Middle Island” was more accurate after all!

A view of the Hemi Matenga hills, which overlook the town of Waikanae, taken from Elizabeth Street, eastern Waikanae. Low morning cloud shrouds the hills, threatening rain, and creating a sense of drama and mystique. (more…)

Taken on the penultimate evening of 2010, this is a landscape that has probably changed little over the last few hundred years. This is taken from Waikanae beach [click here to view location], looking south-east over the Rauoterangi Channel, towards Kapiti Island. The small island to the left of Kapiti Island is Tokomapuna Island (or Aeroplane Island). The top of the South Island can be seen faintly in the background. (more…)

I am not going to pretend this post is about environmental history – it is more about gratuitous self-indulgence (one of the many benefits of having a blog!), and pure enjoyment of the landscape (not a bad thing in itself, after all).

This morning, Carter and I set out on a Wednesday “environmental history” adventure (about which there will be a later post) and, driving down Mazengarb Road, I noticed some interesting cloud formations over Kapiti Island. (more…)

Search terms (the key words you put in Google or any other search engine to find information about a particular topic) are an important way for readers to find a particular website or web-based article. They tell you a lot about what readers of a website are interested in. And envirohistory NZ is no exception. We are really interested in what our readers are interested in!

So, what are the top search terms that brought internet users to envirohistory NZ? (more…)

In 1870, Kapiti was identified by naturalists as a possible site for a bird sanctuary. But it was over a quarter of a century before the Kapiti Island Public Reserve Act (1897) was passed, and the island became a reserve.

Remnant forest, scrubland and previously farmed land was left to regenerate (except for one remaining farm at Waiorua, which continued to be farmed until the 1950s). However, nothing was done to eradicate the introduced species – cattle, goats, sheep, and possums (which had been introduced in 1893 – only four years before Kapiti became a reserve), and these animals kept regeneration of the forest in check through their constant browsing. (more…)

Kapiti Island is the summit of a submerged mountain range created by seismic activity 200 million years ago. It is 10 km long and about 2 km wide, covering an area of 1,965 hectares. The highest point, Tuteremoana, is 521 metres above sea-level.

The history of Kapiti Island neatly encapsulates – both geographically and temporally – the key phases of New Zealand’s environmental history. In a relatively short space of time it has been the object of intensive exploitation that saw its natural resources stretched to their limits, before entering a new phase as a predator-free haven for our rarest native birds. As such, it is now on the forefront of New Zealand’s battle to preserve its natural heritage. But, a lesser known part of its environmental history is the hundreds of years that it sustainably supported a small Maori population. (more…)

This nature reserve, established in 1974, demonstrates the cyclical nature of our environmental history. It started with a small remnant of swamp forest that had escaped the fate of wholesale clearance suffered by all other swamp forest in the Kapiti region (and beyond).

The founders of the reserve* approached the farmer who owned the land – which was part of a sheep and beef farm at the time – about leasing the 13 hectare block which included the remnant forest. The farmer, Moss Smith, was somewhat bemused by their fervent interest in this boggy, “unproductive” piece of land, but in the end agreed to their request.

The original objective of the founders was to establish a bird sanctuary (hense the name Nga Manu – “the birds” in Maori)  - it was only later that they realised the immense significance of the area and opportunity it provided to protect the largest remnant of coastal lowland swamp forest on the Kapiti Coast. To this end, the Trust later purchased the land outright. (more…)

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