Upper Hutt: the valley of many struggles

Following on from the post on the environmental history of Lower Hutt/Petone – the valley of disappointment, this post focuses on the Upper Hutt area, and in particular, the history of the river. This post is in response to a special request by one of envirohistory NZ‘s readers; one of a group of Upper Hutt Valley residents who are concerned about the effects of an application to lower the minimum flow of the Hutt River. Continue reading

Perano – the last whaling station in New Zealand

Today, we pride ourselves as being a fervently anti-whaling nation.  And while most New Zealanders know that whaling also occurred in our coastal seas and on our shores, many would also assume that whaling in this country ended sometime in the late 19th or early 20th century. In fact, this is not the case – the last whaling station in New Zealand closed down only in 1964. Continue reading

Kapiti Island – an environmental history “microcosm” – Part 1

Kapiti Island is the summit of a submerged mountain range created by seismic activity 200 million years ago. It is 10 km long and about 2 km wide, covering an area of 1,965 hectares. The highest point, Tuteremoana, is 521 metres above sea-level.

The history of Kapiti Island neatly encapsulates – both geographically and temporally – the key phases of New Zealand’s environmental history. In a relatively short space of time it has been the object of intensive exploitation that saw its natural resources stretched to their limits, before entering a new phase as a predator-free haven for our rarest native birds. As such, it is now on the forefront of New Zealand’s battle to preserve its natural heritage. But, a lesser known part of its environmental history is the hundreds of years that it sustainably supported a small Maori population. Continue reading