Pohangina wetlands: Wildbore cache no.22

Pohangina wetland.jpg

While researching the clues for a cache at Pohangina wetlands the other day, I stumbled across this not-so-fun fact: scientists estimate that more than 98 of percent of kahikatea forest, which grew in lowland, swampier areas, has been lost nationwide since European colonisation of New Zealand. In the Manawatu region, where wetlands once covered much of the river plains extending from Palmerston North out to the coast, more than 90 per cent of wetlands have been lost. This is a tragic legacy of European settlement, but also makes the Pohangina Wetlands all the more special. Continue reading

Exploring our history through the wonderful world of geocaching

Wildbore geocaching

A window into the long lost, densely forested lowlands of Manawatū has been opened by an author using antique glass plate negatives and new geocaching applications.

Pohangina author Catherine Knight’s main focus is environmental history which led to her fourth book Wildbore: A photographic legacy.Wildbore Cover web

Read the remainder of the story and watch the video on the New Zealand Herald website.

For more information on Wildbore: A photographic legacy (Totara Press), including where to purchase it, go to the Totara Press webpage

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

Scorched forest farm – Wildbore cache no.7

No. 1 Line
The Neilson Farm on No. 1 Line, Awahou in 1896. Photographed by Charles E. Wildbore. Palmerston North Library.

Number 7 in the Wildbore geocache series is on No. 1 Line on the eastern side of the Pohangina Valley.  It was on No. 1 Line that Charles E. Wildbore took one of his earliest surviving landscape photographs, in 1896. The photograph starkly captures the brutal transformation of the landscape by fire. A farmhouse is surrounded by the incinerated limbs and trunks of the forest trees, that until only a few years previously covered the hills and river terraces of the entire valley. While we cannot see this from the photograph, this would likely have been a landscape of oppressive silence – any birds that were able to escape the conflagration would likely have taken refuge in the nearby Ruahine foothills, while introduced birds, such as the sparrow, thrush and blackbird were yet to colonise the valley in substantial numbers. Continue reading

The church that moved: Wildbore cache no. 4

St Aidans Church Awahou.jpgThe fourth cache in the now “Wildly-Famous-in-Pohangina” Wildbore geocaching series is at the top of Church Hill, near the site of the eponymous church.

By the end of the 19th century, the  population of Awahou, on the eastern side of Pohangina River, had grown to a healthy number, and the community felt it was high time for a church to service the Awahou community.

St. Aidan’s Church was opened in November 1902, a modest but attractive timber church accommodating 74 people. Continue reading