New book urges for more nature in our cities

The author’s daughter at a grove of kohekohe trees on the Kapiti Coast. Catherine Knight

In her new book examining the link between nature and wellbeing, environmental historian Dr Catherine Knight explores the benefits of nature experienced by everyday New Zealanders, and argues for more nature in the places where most New Zealanders live – our towns and cities. 

In New Zealand, we think of ourselves as a country rich with nature, but the fact is that most of our surviving forest and pristine waterways are concentrated in the most mountainous parts of the country. They’re preserved not as a result of careful stewardship, but rather an accident of history: it was just too hard to develop and economically exploit these rugged, inaccessible places. Our lowland landscapes are largely bereft of any forests, wetlands or any nature in its original form.

Read more of this article on The Spinoff.

New book exploring nature and wellbeing in New Zealand

I am very excited to announce the emergence into the world of my latest book Nature and Wellbeing in Aotearoa New Zealand: Exploring the connection (Totara Press).

This comes as the culmination of three years of research, interviews and writing, but in many ways, could not be more timely. The experience of many New Zealanders during this year’s Covid lockdown has only served to underscore how important access to natural spaces are – for both body and mind.

To find out more about the book, visit the Totara Press webpage.

Details on launch coming soon!

Christchurch’s “Garden of Tranquility”

rocks in the Recovery Garden
“Tomorrow is a new day”: A rock in the Recovery Garden

Christchurch, and especially its Red Zone, it a veritable hotbed of nature and wellbeing projects – the topic of my latest book. A vast area in the eastern parts of Christchurch as well as a number of inner city sites were deemed too risky to reoccupy following the February 2011 earthquake. While this has had tragic consequences for those many people who had to say goodbye to their homes, gardens and neighbourhoods forever, it has created a unique opportunity – unique not only within the context of New Zealand and its history, but also a rare opportunity anywhere in the world. I explored this in my 2016 book New Zealand’s Rivers. Continue reading

‘New Zealand’s Rivers’ is impressive for its scope, clarity, poignancy and power

Rivers coverIt is a daunting to have your work reviewed by someone as well respected in the field of environmental history as Graeme Wynn, Professor Emeritus in Geography, University of British Columbia. A relief to find it is a positive review, and an very nice indeed to read his assessment that “Catherine Knight is set fair to take her place among the country’s leading environmental historians”. Continue reading

‘Komorebi’ – sunlight filtering through leaves

skyward-view-of-kohekohe-grove
Light through the leaves of a kohekohe grove in Waikanae, Kapiti Coast. C. Knight

As part of my literature review for my book exploring the connection between nature and wellbeing in New Zealand, I have been reading Shinrin-yoku: The art and science of forest-bathing, by Dr Qing Li, who has researched the subject extensively in Japan.

Shinrinyoku LiIn describing the Japanese experience of spending time in a forested environment, he draws the reader’s attention to the Japanese word ‘komorebi’, 木漏れ日 in Japanese characters, meaning ‘sunlight filtering through leaves’ (木 = tree, 漏れ = leak through, 日 = sun). Continue reading

“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

Nature & wellbeing in NZ – case study ideas please

nature_and_wellbeingAs you may have seen from an earlier post Can you help? The connection between nature & wellbeing  I am interested in exploring the connection between nature and wellbeing as the subject of my next book. In that earlier post, I asked for help finding existing literature on the topic, particularly in the New Zealand context. And I got some super-helpful responses, so thank you so much to everyone who responded! Continue reading

Coming up on 1 November: Exploring Manawatu’s past through photographs

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Looking forward to this event this Thursday November 1, as part of Local History Week 2018.

I will be taking the audience on a journey of discovery of the Manawatu’s past through the photographs of C.E. Wildbore and others. The event also marks the launch of Totara Press’s beautiful new (French-flapped) edition of Ravaged Beauty: An environmental history.

Wildbore: A photographic legacy will also be for sale at the event.

See event details here

Can you help? The connection between nature & wellbeing

woman in forest

I see that a focus of this year’s Mental Health Awareness week was ‘Letting nature in’, encouraging New Zealanders to get out and connect with nature, in light of its proven benefits for mental and spiritual wellbeing. (A survey undertaken by the Mental Health Foundation last year found that 95 per cent of New Zealanders reported a lift in mood after spending time in nature.) Continue reading