“Beyond Manapouri is an important, highly readable and hard-hitting book”

Beyond Manapouri cover webI am thrilled with Shaun Barnett’s review of “Beyond Manapouri: 50 years of environmental politics” in this month’s Backcountry Magazine, particularly given that Shaun himself is such a talented and well-respected writer of NZ non-fiction.

His review concludes:

“Knight writes succinctly, clearly and convincingly. Continue reading

‘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.

Ikawai: a revelation

lamphrey
A lamprey or pirahau. Photo by Stephen Moore, Department of Conservation

I came to the world of Ikawai rather late. I had dipped into the hefty 800 page volume some time back. What I read was very interesting, but thinking that it was basically an encyclopedia about fish, I had not ventured much further than the introductory chapters.

Recently, my interest in the impact of acclimatisation on Maori led me back to the book. What a revelation! Well actually a series of them. 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

Review: Home in the Howling Wilderness

Holland Howling WildernessPeter Holland’s recently published Home in the Howling Wilderness is a valuable addition to the repository of literature and knowledge relating to New Zealand’s environmental history.

Holland, Professor Emeritus of Geography at the University of Otago, focuses on the first half century of organised settlement (1840 to 1890) of the lower South Island of New Zealand.

He has meticulously researched the ways in which early settlers learned about, and responded to  the challenges of this unfamiliar environment, drawing on farmers’ dairies, letter books, ledgers, newspaper articles and other available sources. Continue reading

Nature and the English Diaspora: Environment and History in the US, Canada, Australia, and NZ

nature-and-the-english-diasporaA little while ago, I read a reference to the book Nature and the English Diaspora: Environment and History in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, by Thomas R. Dunlap, which was published back in 1999. I don’t have a copy of this book, and not many libraries hold it, so I was keen to find out what the reviews were at the time. However, I was not able to find one single review through my friend, the usually highly reliable Mr Google.

Luckily, I was able to ascertain that New Zealand environmental historian Paul Star had done a review of the book for the journal Australian Historical Studies in 2000, and he has kindly given me his permission to reproduce a version of it here. This review is written from the perspective of a New Zealand scholar of environmental history, so is particularly useful for Antipodeans. Continue reading

What is environmental history? (no. 2)

Arbour Day at Rata School 1894Recently I read J. Donald Hughes’ “What is Environmental History?” This is an excellent little introductory book, aimed primarily at those relatively new to environmental history  – whether it be students, those specialising in other disciplines, or non-scholars who have an interest in environmental history. Having never studied environmental history in a formal setting myself, the book provided useful context.

The book is very accessible and unthreatening to even the non-academically inclined in its content as well as its slimness – “models”, “paradigms” or “axioms” are rarely mentioned, and “post-modernism” is only mentioned once, as I recall! Continue reading