Like so many other industries based on a finite natural resource, whaling in New Zealand has a long history of over-use, leading to a collapse of that resource. The southern right whale was caught from shore-based stations in the early nineteenth century, but by 1850 their numbers had been so depleted that shore-based whaling was limited. (more…)

At envirohistory NZ, we like to review the most popular posts of each quarter (though sometimes – such as on this occasion – a little late). The top five posts of the first quarter of 2011 covered a wide breadth of topics, from the the environmental histories which contributed to the devastating consequences of the seismic disasters of Christchurch and Japan; an urban wetland; a history of whaling in New Zealand; and the Scandanavian settlers of the Manawatu. Here are the topics in order of hits:

1. The Scandinavian settlers of the Manawatu

2. Waitangi Park – an urban wetland recreated

3. Christchurch: a city haunted by its environmental past? (more…)

This post reviews the top posts of the third quarter of 2010. Our favourite Californian again proves very popular, this quarter overtaking A tale of mining, which was very topical earlier in the year. The others in the top 5 traverse a diverse range of themes: Maori horticulture, a rare inner-city oasis of ancient forest, the surprisingly recent history of whaling in New Zealand, and eels – which have figured so large both in our streams, rivers and estuaries as well as our cultural history. (more…)

A little late, but hopefully none the worse for it, here are the top five posts for the second quarter of 2010. Two of this quarter’s top 5 were also in the top 5 in the first quarter: Our favourite Californian – the history of the Radiata Pine forestry in NZ came in at number 1 last quarter, while Manawatu River – pollution concerns date back to 1890 came in at number 2. However, this quarter, they have been upstaged by the history of mining story (more…)

Today, we pride ourselves as being a fervently anti-whaling nation.  And while most New Zealanders know that whaling also occurred in our coastal seas and on our shores, many would also assume that whaling in this country ended sometime in the late 19th or early 20th century. In fact, this is not the case – the last whaling station in New Zealand closed down only in 1964. (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…)

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