Burning New Zealand’s forests

Of all the photographs I have seen relating to New Zealand’s environmental history, this is one of the most powerful. It shows the beginnings of a bush burn off at Puketora Station on the East Coast of the North Island in the early 1900s. This fire destroyed the indigenous forest over 30,000 acres, to make way for farming (probably of sheep). Continue reading

Volcanoes and farming

How do volcanoes relate to farming?

The early settler-farmers of New Zealand soon recognized the limitations of the fertility of the land which they farmed, particularly when it came to arable crops such as wheat. In regions such as the Manawatu, the “black soils” of burnt-off bush country at first produced prolific crops, owing to the minerals contained within the ashes of the burnt bush. However, quite rapidly, this fertility declined. Continue reading