New issue of Environment & Nature NZ

kahikateaA new issue of ENNZ: Environment and Nature New Zealand is now out!

Contents:
Vaughan Wood, “Editor’s Introduction”
Linda Tyler, “Illustrating the Grasses and the Transactions: John Buchanan’s Development of Technologies for Lithography in Natural History”
Julia Wells, “A Physician to the Sultan’: The East African Environment in the Writings of a New Zealand Doctor”
Vaughan Wood, “The History of the Phormium Flax Industry in Canterbury”
Paul Star, “Review: Alan F. Mark, Standing My Ground: A Voice for Nature Conservation”
Vaughan Wood, “Recent Publication: Neville Peat: Stewart Island: Rakiura National Park”

Environmental history in NZ: seven reasons why it’s important

This image taken by Charles E. Wildbore circa 1907 shows the rural mail delivery that operated in the Pohangina Valley. The background of scorched, leafless tree trunks and limbs draws the eye of the environmental historian. Palmerston North City Library, ID 2007N_Poh2_RTL_0852

This image taken by Charles E. Wildbore circa 1907 shows the rural mail delivery that operated in the Pohangina Valley. It is the background of scorched, leafless tree trunks and limbs that draws the eye of the environmental historian, rather than the mail cart or people in the foreground. Palmerston North City Library, ID 2007N_Poh2_RTL_0852

Why should we study New Zealand’s environmental history? and how is it different from “conventional” history?

These are the questions that Paul Star asks in his essay entitled Environmental history and New Zealand history, first written in 2008, but recently republished on Environment and Nature in New Zealand.

Star offers seven compelling reasons why it is important. And of course, the key difference between environmental history and history is that while people are the central players in conventional history, the relationship between people and the environment is the focus in environmental history. Continue reading

Nature and the English Diaspora: Environment and History in the US, Canada, Australia, and NZ

nature-and-the-english-diasporaA little while ago, I read a reference to the book Nature and the English Diaspora: Environment and History in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, by Thomas R. Dunlap, which was published back in 1999. I don’t have a copy of this book, and not many libraries hold it, so I was keen to find out what the reviews were at the time. However, I was not able to find one single review through my friend, the usually highly reliable Mr Google.

Luckily, I was able to ascertain that New Zealand environmental historian Paul Star had done a review of the book for the journal Australian Historical Studies in 2000, and he has kindly given me his permission to reproduce a version of it here. This review is written from the perspective of a New Zealand scholar of environmental history, so is particularly useful for Antipodeans. Continue reading

Did European settlers loathe the forest?

In 1969, geographer Paul Shepard published a monograph entitled “English reaction to the New Zealand landscape before 1850”, in which he explored the various attitudes of English immigrants towards the indigenous landscape, particularly the forest, in this early settlement period. He review of the written accounts by early settlers and observers found that the most prevalent view of the forest was negative: it was described as “dreary”, “dismal”, “gloomy”, and seen as the antithesis of civilization and morality.

Since then, a number of historians and historical geographers have explored this question further, including Jock Phillips in his 1981 paper “Fear and loathing of the New Zealand landscape”, and Paul Star in his 2003 article “New Zealand environmental history: a question of attitudes”. Continue reading

A history of environmental history in New Zealand

In 2003, Paul Star, an Otago-based environmental historian, published a paper outlining developments in the field of environmental history in New Zealand, how it fits in to the international context, and some thoughts about the areas in which the field would most benefit from further research (“New Zealand Environmental History: A Question of Attitudes”).

It is a great little article, written in Star’s characteristic reader-friendly, jargon-free style, and I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in this field. Continue reading