Landscape transformation in New Zealand

Pawson NZ landscape transformation.pngI was recently alerted to this interesting graph showing the various drivers in landscape transformation in Aotearoa New Zealand over the past two centuries. The graph appears in Eric Pawson’s chapter ‘Sustainability and management of the environment’ in The physical environment: A New Zealand perspective, edited by A. Sturman and R. Spronken-Smith (Oxford University Press, 2001). It would be an intriguing to see how the graph looks beyond 2000.

‘Beyond Manapouri’ is a must-read for all landscape architects and planners

“Reading this book will likely change your perception of the New Zealand environment.  It is a must-read for all New Zealand landscape architects, planners, resource management lawyers and indeed all New Zealanders that want to achieve a better future for their children and their children’s children.”

This was the conclusion of Peter Kensington, planner and landscape architect in a recent review of Beyond Manapouri: 50 years of environmental politics in New Zealand (Canterbury University Press).

Madi and Beyond Manapouri

Madi Kensington, aged 11 years old, also reviewed the book, and concluded:

“This book perfectly explains how New Zealand has changed its view on the environment many times over the past 50 years. In the early days, our environment was regarded as something our government didn’t need to worry about, but as the years wore on, things started getting more serious. Knight has explained these issues with perfectly-worded descriptions and given real examples, making for convincing reading.”

To read the full review go to the Landscape Architecture Aotearoa website.

Pohangina wetlands: Wildbore cache no.22

Pohangina wetland.jpg

While researching the clues for a cache at Pohangina wetlands the other day, I stumbled across this not-so-fun fact: scientists estimate that more than 98 of percent of kahikatea forest, which grew in lowland, swampier areas, has been lost nationwide since European colonisation of New Zealand. In the Manawatu region, where wetlands once covered much of the river plains extending from Palmerston North out to the coast, more than 90 per cent of wetlands have been lost. This is a tragic legacy of European settlement, but also makes the Pohangina Wetlands all the more special. Continue reading

Exploring our history through the wonderful world of geocaching

Wildbore geocaching

A window into the long lost, densely forested lowlands of Manawatū has been opened by an author using antique glass plate negatives and new geocaching applications.

Pohangina author Catherine Knight’s main focus is environmental history which led to her fourth book Wildbore: A photographic legacy.Wildbore Cover web

Read the remainder of the story and watch the video on the New Zealand Herald website.

For more information on Wildbore: A photographic legacy (Totara Press), including where to purchase it, go to the Totara Press webpage

Have we been too hands off when it comes to our environment?

Auckland city.jpgReflecting on what I learnt from researching the last 50 years of environmental policy and management in New Zealand, a question has arisen in my mind that is – I believe – a vitally important one, with strong relevance to the environmental challenges we face today. That is, in rejecting “top-down” town planning, as represented by the Town and Country Act 1977 and its predecessors, and embracing an environmental management regime that focused on minimising effects of activities once they happen, did the government abandon its legitimate mandate to shape a better future via environmental planning? Continue reading

Is New Zealand on the verge of a tipping point?

Beyond Manapouri cover webIn a recent article published in George Washington University’s online journal History News Network, I argue that New Zealand may be on the cusp of a tipping point – not in the state of our environment, but rather, in terms of New Zealanders’ awareness of the gravity of environmental issues we face and the need to make meaningful interventions.

I conclude my article with the hope that a future historian will be able to reflect back on this period, and identify it as a watershed era in terms of environmental awareness and action – a ‘tipping point’ in environmental history, much like the Save Manapouri Campaign was half a century ago.

Do you agree? You can read the full article on the History News Network website.