Woman paddling in dugout canoe in Jone's Lagoon, Karere, c1905. Palmerston North City Library, 2007N_Lo27_BRW_0609

Woman paddling in dugout canoe in Jone’s Lagoon, Karere, c1905. Palmerston North City Library, 2007N_Lo27_BRW_0609

One aspect of the Manawatu’s environmental history which I completely neglected in my book Ravaged Beauty: an environmental history of the Manawatu, was recreational canoeing on the Manawatu River. Yet I have since discovered that it had a most illustrious history, according to Murray Fyfe’s history of recreational canoeing in New Zealand, published in 1972. (more…)

Manawatu River

Manawatu River, ca 1870. Note shacks on flanks of the river. Photograph taken by William James Harding 1826-1899. Ref: 1/1-000339-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

I have been dipping into my recently acquired copy of Making a New Land, the revised edition of Environmental Histories of New Zealand (see: Environmental histories of New Zealand – Making a New Land). In particular, the conclusion really resonates with me:

Environmental history can and should be more than history with nature added in. (more…)

Wetlands below Ashhurst Domain, on a site that was once the course of the Pohangina River

Wetlands below Ashhurst Domain, on a site that was once the course of the Pohangina River

Though we often hear about wetland restoration projects, the Ashhurst wetland, on the river flats below the Ashhurst Domain [click here to view location] is not a case of “restoration” in the normal sense. (more…)

Pied stilts at Manawatu Estuary. Photo by Steve Attwood https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevex2/ , not to be reproduced without prior permission.

Pied stilts at Manawatu Estuary. Photo by Steve Attwood, not to be reproduced without prior permission. See: https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevex2/

The Manawatu Estuary has transformed significantly over the last century or more. In the 1800s, the mouth of the Manawatu River reached the sea several kilometres north of where it flows into the sea today. With the arrival of Europeans in the latter half of the 19th century, and the foundation of the town of Foxton, it soon became a bustling port. However, with the strong southward current depositing much sand on the coast a spit has gradually grown and the mouth of the river has slowly moved southwards. Today, it is used by recreational boaties but has long since lost any commercial significance as a port. (more…)

In her 1954 reminiscences of pioneering life in the Manawatu town of Palmerston North, Charlotte Warburton writes about childhood adventures in the bush in the Hokowhitu area, adjoining the Manawatu River.

I grew up in Hokowhitu in the 1970s, not far from the River, but by then there was little sign that anything but the exotic had ever thrived there. (more…)

Living in Christchurch, I was always vaguely aware of a park in the north-east of the city called “The Groynes”. It seemed an odd, and rather un-illustrious name for a park (given its homonymity with that particular part of the body), but I never took the time to find out what its origin was.

Had I had the curiosity to investigate, I would have found out that “The Groynes” derives its name from large blocks, made from concrete filled woolsacks, which were placed in the (more…)

When surveyors laid out the Manawatu town of Palmerston North, they were a little optimistic.

An 1878 [see left] and later 1895 survey map shows sections in the suburbs of Terrace End and low-lying Hokowhitu running right up to – and in some cases beyond – the banks of the meandering Manawatu River. However, the multitude of lagoons in the district showed that the Manawatu River must have flooded, and changed its course, many times throughout the centuries, leaving these “cut-off meander” lagoons as evidence. (more…)

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