‘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.

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Autumn in the Pohangina Valley

pin oakIt was mid-autumn when we moved to our new home in the Pohangina Valley, and the valley has been ablaze with autumn colour – one of the advantages of living in a colder climate where seasons are more delineated.

This has been one of my favourite scenes: a vista from our drive, across the farmer’s paddock out to the Ruahine Range. I love the vibrant contrast of colour: the red of the solitary pin oak, the green of the pasture and bush, against the backdrop of blue-tinged mountain range.

This post was first published on www.catherineknight.nz

See also: The influence of seasons on culture and environmental perceptions; More about seasonal change (fungi)

Life changes

tree houseAbout three weeks ago my family and I made a very big life change. We moved from comfortable, convenient, leafy suburbia on the Kapiti Coast to a 7-acre block of land in rural Manawatu. This involved moving ourselves out of our 213 m2 4-bedroom, double-garaged home into a garage-less house of exactly half that size.

There is a very good reason for us doing this: it wasn’t the plan.

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Talk: A history of the Manawatu River

ashhurst-libraryI will be doing a talk about my book Ravaged Beauty, with a focus on the Manawatu River, at the historic Ashhurst Community Library (seen here in its original form as a post office), on:

Thursday, 20th October at 7pm.

This will possibly be my last talk about my first book, which is fitting, because I lived in Ashhurst when I first conceived on the idea of doing a history of the Manawatu. I also have the last few books left, so it may peoples’ last opportunity to purchase one (at discount, of course).

Look forward to seeing some of you there. Download flyer for talk here.

Ravaged Beauty receives award

coverOn Wednesday night, I received an award from the Palmerston North Heritage Trust for my book Ravaged Beauty: an environmental history of the Manawatu.

From the Heritage Trust’s media release:

“Environmental historian Catherine Knight has won the Palmerston North Heritage Trust’s inaugural award for the best work of history relating to the Manawatu. Ravaged Beauty: An Environmental History of the Manawatu was described by co-judge Jill White as an outstanding winner from the 2013-14 publications considered. Continue reading

Scandinavian axemen, Maori gardening and forgotten streams of Christchurch

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. Alexander Turnbull Library ref. 1/2-004619-F.

In anticipation of my talk on Friday, I thought I would gain some insights into envirohistory NZ’s most popular posts. Fittingly, given that my talk is in the Manawatu, the most popular post (by far) has been The Scandinavian settlers of the Manawatu.

The next most popular posts have been Maori gardening in pre-European NZ and Earthquake reveals the forgotten streams of Christchurch.

Perhaps you might want to check them out.