Reading the landscape via photographs of the past

In a post last week I talked about my next book project, a book entitled WILDBORE: A photographic legacy, showcasing the photographs of pioneering farmer and bee-keeper of the Pohangina Valley.

One of Charles E. Wildbore’s most evocative images (in a desolate kind of way) is this one of men getting ready to cart sleepers from Crown-owned reserve land in Pohangina Valley to the nearby railway station at Ashhurst. This road borders what is today known as Totara Reserve (originally set aside by the government for its timber), and is in fact not far from where I live. The other day, I drove up to the road in an effort to find the exact place he took the photograph – and was excited to locate it with relative ease. Well almost – judging from the terrain, the alignment of the road today is just to the south of its original route, on slightly higher ground.

Opawe Road 1904 Continue reading

‘A vision to restore the environment’: how history helps us make sense of the present

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Minister for the Environment, David Parker, speaking about his passion – the environment – at last month’s launch of “Beyond Manapouri”

Earlier this month, the Minister for the Environment David Parker made an address to the Forest & Bird annual conference entitled “A vision to restore the environment”. I was delighted to see he made reference to my book Beyond Manapouri, and how history helps us put events today into context.  Here is an excerpt of his speech, which can be read in full on the Beehive website:

Last week I had the privilege of speaking at the launch of Catherine Knight’s new book Beyond Manapouri – 50 years of environmental politics in New Zealand. Continue reading

Exploring our environmental history though the remarkable photos of Wildbore

Bush-whacker camp

Now that ‘Beyond Manapouri’ is safely out into the world, some of you may have been wondering what my next book project is.

Well, since you asked ;-), it is a book exploring the life and works of a man called Charles E. Wildbore, who emigrated to New Zealand as a boy in 1874, and settled in the newly-opened Pohangina Valley, in the Manawatu. Wildbore was unremarkable in many ways. Like many other settlers of this era, he and his wife Jane owned a small farm, with a small herd of dairy cows, and some chickens. He also had an apiary and produced honey for the local market.

But what does make Wildbore remarkable are his photographs. Continue reading

Launch of “Beyond Manapouri” – photos!

We couldn’t have hoped for a more successful launch of Beyond Manapouri: 50 years of environmental politics in New Zealand last week at Vic Books, Wellington. Thank you to all who came along – many from far afield. Minister for the Environment David Parker gave a cracker of a speech, with a few laughs in there as well (as evidenced by the photographs!). Photos by Dave Kelly.

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Will we ever see another “Manapouri”?

Lake Manapouri NZ Herald

Has New Zealand failed its environment? is the question asked by Jamie Morton, Science Reporter at the New Zealand Herald, in his piece published yesterday about Beyond Manapouri: 50 years of environmental politics in New Zealand (Canterbury University Press) [read article here].

In his interview, one of the questions Jamie asked me was:

‘Looking into the near future, what do you think will be the big issues of contention? Is there anything on the horizon that might prove New Zealand’s next Manapouri?’ Continue reading

The importance of ‘leadership’ in environmental governance

For those who missed it, here is a link to the interview about Beyond Manapouri with Kathryn Ryan, Radio New Zealand, in which we discuss the critical importance of free and frank advice and national leadership in environmental governance:

Beyond Manapouri, 50 years of environmental politics

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Aratiatia Rapids (below Aratiatia Dam) on the Waikato River. Clive Madge

In this interview, Catherine Knight examines the catalogue of missed opportunities since the birthplace of the Manapouri environmental movement. Her new book, ‘Beyond Manapouri: 50 years of environmental politics in New Zealand’ is particularly critical of the lack of political leadership in the last 25 years. Catherine Knight is an Honorary Research Associate at the School of People, Environment and Planning at Massey University.