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…)

The earlier post on Hunting in New Zealand prompted one of our regular contributors, Paul Knight (now 74), to reminisce about his own hunting days:

When I was a child, my father used to take me fishing in Whangaroa Harbour and hunting for rabbits and hares, ducks and swans.  By my early teens I had graduated to hunting deer.  The purpose of both the fishing and the hunting was to keep an old freezer stocked for the family of 6. By the time I was a university student in the 1950s, I went hunting for deer by myself, traveling by motorbike with sidecar (Triumph 500 Speed Twin), mostly to Minginui Forest, west of Te Urewera National Park.

Hunting at Minginui was always successful.  There was no need to get up at dawn.  Even in the middle of the day you could creep up on clearings in the kanuka scrub or forest with a good chance of finding a herd of anything up to about 20 deer resting in the sun.  They would make off in panic and not infrequently ran straight at me in the confusion. (more…)

In Hunting: a New Zealand History, Kate Hunter explores the peculiar and unique development of hunting culture in New Zealand following its European settlement. She describes how working class settlers saw in New Zealand a chance to escape deprivation and class-based inequalities.

Many immigrants wrote back to family and friends enthusing about their freedom to hunt and fish, free from Britain’s game laws – which had since the 1670s restricted hunting to all but the aristocracy. The letters back to England of working class immigrants in the 1870s were full of stories about hunting pigs, goats, rabbits and birds, without fear of prosecution from the local constabulary. (more…)

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