Kimbolton and surrounds – “putting the small man on the land”

The area between Cheltenham and Kimbolton, north-east of the Manawatu town of Feilding, offers both interesting landscapes and history to the observant traveller [click here to view map]. But here, the history is not so much in what is there, but what isn’t there.

The area, once part of the Kiwitea County, is speckled with illustrious-sounding placenames, such as Almadale, Cheltenham, Beaconsfield and Kimbolton; names of soon-to-be thriving towns on surveyors’ meticulously laid plans, but towns which never grew beyond small villages. Continue reading

Did tsunami cause resource wars in prehistoric New Zealand?

Archaeologists have conventionally divided New Zealand prehistory into two chronological phases: “Archaic Maori” and “Classic Maori”. These phases are defined by the distinctive assemblages of artefacts (such as adzes, fishing implements and ornaments) that are associated with each phase. But they also largely coincide with the centrality of big game to Maori subsistence. During the earlier phase, moa and seals were central to people’s diet. However, as moa became extinct (by around 1500 AD), and seal populations seriously depleted, Maori had to rely more heavily on other sources of food. Continue reading

Lichen-covered fences and other miscellaneous ramblings

This post makes no pretensions of being a serious essay about environmental history; it is more an excuse to post a few pictures from the little Reikorangi expedition my son undertook a few days ago (see: Views of Kapiti 8: the kahikatea of Ngatiawa and The bridge between two counties: Ngatiawa Bridge).

This first picture was taken on Rangiora Road (click here to view map). The fence literally dripping with lichen was extremely enticing, and the horse peeking through the slats was an added bonus. Continue reading

The bridge between two counties: Ngatiawa Bridge

After our first excursion to Reikorangi on the last day of 2011 [see: Views of Kapiti 8: the kahikatea of Ngatiawa], I couldn’t resist another outing there with my son the next day.

I find the landscapes of Reikorangi so alluring; the natural environment itself is varied and interesting, both in its contours and mix of indigenous and exotic vegetation, but I also like the fact that its history is so palpable in the landscape. Even from the road, an observant visitor will spot old buildings, lichen-covered fences, abandoned machinery and other infrastructure. Continue reading

Welcome to Year of the Dragon: a New Zealand “dragon” story

Not being an avid follower of the Chinese zodiac, I was not aware that 2012 was the Year of the Dragon until yesterday, when I read a post of a favourite blogsite of mine. So, I thought it would be an opportune time to write about a New Zealand “dragon”.

The tuatara represents 225 million years of history on four scaly (and rather wrinkly) legs; it is the only survivor of an ancient group of reptiles that roamed the earth at the same time as dinosaurs. Its relatives became extinct 60 million years ago – and for this reason it is often referred to as a ‘living fossil’. Continue reading