A view of the Hemi Matenga hills, which overlook the town of Waikanae, taken from Elizabeth Street, eastern Waikanae. Low morning cloud shrouds the hills, threatening rain, and creating a sense of drama and mystique. Continue reading
Radio New Zealand’s “Country Life” programme is a favourite of mine – as a born-and-bred “townie” – I enjoy the insights it provides into living off the land – whether as a farmer, horticulturalist, or cottage industry owner. The programme also features stories which provide important insights from an environmental history perspective.
The most recent programme features a story about a southern Waikato farmer who, after growing up seeing the lowland indigenous forest around her town decimated by forestry, is covenanting 4 hectares of remnant bush on her farm in Mamaku [click here to view location] to ensure its future preservation. The bush is dominated by tawa, rimu and kahikatea, and is one of the last surviving remnants on this ignimbrite plateau which was once covered in dense forest. Continue reading
Having recently read Beyond the Scene: landscape and identity in Aotearoa New Zealand one particular anecdote stood out for me (see also: Landscape and identity in NZ). This anecdote is important for two reasons: one, it provides a salutary reminder that destruction of our indigenous forest cannot simply be relegated to a long-passed and unenlightened chapter of our history – in fact, it has continued into recent decades. But the anecdote also has a more uplifting lesson, reminding us of the old adage that out of adversity arises opportunity: that the most devastating circumstances, can, with the right mix of leadership, commitment and persistence, give rise to an outcome that brings benefits that in time outweigh the initial loss. Continue reading
When Europeans began arriving in the Canterbury region in the early 1800s, most of the swamp forest – dominated by matai, totara and kahikatea (white pine) – that covered much of the Canterbury Plains in previous centuries was gone. It is thought that it had been destroyed by a great fire that swept across the plains during the moa hunter period, leaving only a scattered bush remnants. Continue reading