New edition of “Ravaged Beauty” now available

Ravaged Beauty coverYes, the rumours are true! The sparkly new edition of “Ravaged Beauty: An environmental history of the Manawatu”, published by Totara Press, is now available! And it looks stunning. The French flaps are back by popular demand, the photographs are almost jumping off the page they look so good, and we have made a few design enhancements to make your reading experience all the more enjoyable.

But best of all? The price remains exactly the same, at $49.99.

Find more details, including flyer, here. Purchase from your local bookstore, or order online from Nationwide Book Distributors.

“Wildbore: A photographic legacy” – launch photos

The launch of “Wildbore: A photographic legacy” on Wednesday night was an amazing success, with over 80 people attending, including around 20 people from the wonderful Wildbore clan. Thank you all for coming along and making it such a successful and enjoyable event. Here are some photo highlights.

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Totara Reserve: from exploitation to preservation

car in pohangina
Car in Totara Reserve circa 1916-20. One of Charles E. Wildbore’s most iconic photographs. Palmerston North Library

Totara Reserve is situated in the Pohangina Valley on the eastern side of the Pohangina River, in the Manawatu [click here to view location]. It encompasses an area of 348 hectares, much of it podocarp forest, made up of totara, matai, rimu and kahikatea, as well as some black beech.

Its history as a reserve began in 1886, when it was gazetted under the provisions of the State Forests Act (1885) as a ‘reserve for growth & preservation of timber and for river conservation purposes’. This at a time when the area was been ‘opened up’ for settlement – settlement in the Pohangina Valley area began with Ashhurst in March 1879.

In 1932, a portion of the Reserve was designated as a Scenic Reserve under the provisions of the Scenery Preservation Act 1908, and vested in the Pohangina County Council. Continue reading

Top envirohistory NZ posts of all time

Young Maori girl at Te Ariki Pa. Shows her standing alongside a vegetable garden and a whare. Photograph taken in the 1880s by the Burton Brothers.
Young Maori girl at Te Ariki Pa, near Lake Tarawera, Bay of Plenty. Shows her standing alongside a vegetable garden and a whare. Photograph taken in the 1880s by the Burton Brothers. Not to be reproduced without prior permission from Alexander Turnbull Library ref. 1/2-004619-F.

Long-time envirohistory NZ followers may remember I had a fairly regular post introducing the most popular posts for the quarter or year. It’s been a while since I have done this so I thought as a celebration of envirohistory NZ’s ‘rebirth’, I would present the top 5 posts of ALL TIME (well, since 2009). So here they are:

The Scandinavian settlers of the Manawatu (first published January 2010)

Maori gardening in pre-European New Zealand ((first published June 2010)

Earthquake reveals the forgotten streams of Christchurch (first published May 2011)

Opiki Toll Bridge: graceful relic of a thriving flax industry (first published May 2011)

Waitangi Park – an urban wetland recreated (first published December 2010)

‘Playing god’ – 1837 and 2017

bait station kanukaDecisions made by men more than a century and a half ago led to me facing an unpleasant ethical dilemma a few days ago.

That is, should I subject animals to an untimely but rapid death, or a prolonged and (I can only imagine) painful one? The animal I am talking about is the Australian brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula),  introduced to New Zealand in 1837 for the fur trade. And it was a decision I was confronted with when I approached the regional council to have bait stations installed on our land, which borders a gully of beautiful regenerating forest.

Continue reading