Kahikatea rootLike intriguing fibrous sculptures emerging out of the forest floor, these are parts of the buttressed roots of a kahikatea, or white pine. Kahikatea is one of the main canopy species of the semi-swamp forest which once grew on the flood plains of the Manawatu and throughout the country [see also: The slaying of our kahikatea forests: how Jurassic giants became butter boxes]. (more…)

George Dear in Dear's Bush

George Dear standing on the “bridge” across Maire stream, which runs through one block of the bush preserved by his grandfather in the 1870s.

A few days ago, I had the privilege of visiting a piece of remnant forest on the plains between Manawatu and Rangitikei Rivers [click here to view location]. The bush was set aside by George Dear, an immigrant from Bedfordshire, England, who became one of the first settlers in the Rongotea district. (more…)

I came across this photo on the Manawatu Memory Online site the other day, while looking for an image of early Manawatu history. I was immediately captivated by the image. It is the 1881 photograph of the now long-gone Awapuni Lagoon, located in what is now the south-western corner of Palmerston North city, about where the Awapuni racecourse is today [click here to view map]. (more…)

Driving the route east of Lake Brunner, then back to the coast via State Highway 73 through Taramakau Valley [click here to view map], I was struck by the palpable human imprint even on the most (at first glance) wild and rugged looking landscapes. Through the Taramakau Valley, the hills and mountains on either side of the Taramakau River are so steep that landslips are frequent events, sometimes missing farmhouses perched precariously at the bottom of these slopes by a breathtakingly small margin. (more…)

It is with both horror and immeasurable sadness that I contemplate the tragic consequences of last Tuesday’s massive earthquake on the city that I lived in for 8 years, and which I still regard with immense affection. I cannot even begin to imagine how life must be like for its residents today, especially those who have friends or family who have perished. (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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