Wainui – a beautiful river

Wainui River 1

The lower reaches of the Wainui River. Photo: C. Knight

In a recent trip to Golden Bay (named for its goldfields, discovered near Collingwood in 1857, though it could equally be named for its golden sand beaches), I had the privilege of visiting a wild river. 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

Wild rivers

rafting

River rafting. Source: http://www.riverrats.co.nz

I recently had the great pleasure to read John Mackay’s book “Wild rivers”, published in 1978, in which he recounts with remarkable descriptive detail the rafting adventures he and his mates had during the 1970s. He describes adventures on the Upper Buller Gorge, the middle Clarence, the Motu, the Wanganui, and the Karamea – all undertaken on home-made rafts, constructed using inner tyre tubes, timber and ropes, with accessories such as life-jackets either borrowed or improvised. Continue reading

New issue of Environment and Nature in New Zealand now out!

deerJust released: Environment and Nature in New Zealand Vol 9 No 2

Includes the following articles and book reviews:

Alistair McMechan, “Timber Town: A History of Port Craig”

Simon Canaval, “The Story of the Fallow Deer: An Exotic Aspect of British Globalisation” Continue reading

Christchurch on the “old delta of the River Waimakariri”

Christchurch, 1860, showing Avon River in the middle ground and Worcester Bridge in the background. Alexander Turnbull Library, ref. 1/2-022720-F

Christchurch, 1860, showing Avon River and Worcester Bridgein the middle ground. Alexander Turnbull Library, ref. 1/2-022720-F

I have been trawling historic newspapers in Papers Past in my efforts to research early European attitudes to New Zealand’s rivers. In the course (unintended pun) of doing so, I stumbled upon a report on the drainage of the city, submitted to the Christchurch City Council in 1864 by the City Surveyor. It is illuminating given the city’s struggle with flooding following the Canterbury earthquakes. Continue reading

Whose rivers are more pleasant? New Zealand vs England

Avon River, Christchurch

A “pleasant” river, complete with punts: Avon River through Christchurch

Reading Andrew McRae’s paper “Fluvial Nation: rivers, mobility and poetry in Early Modern England”, I was struck by its opening statement.

In 1665, the speaker of the House of Commons, addressing the King and Parliament reflected that: “Cosmosgraphers do agree that this Island is incomparably furnished with pleasant Rivers, like Veins in the Natural Body, which conveys the Blood into all the Parts, whereby the whole is nourished, and made useful.” Continue reading