The history of Peacock Springs Wildlife Park is a story of how, through twists of fate and the convictions and actions of inspired individuals, an environment can be transformed beyond anyone’s expectations – both as a visual landscape and in terms of its functions and purpose. It also challenges us on our assumptions about the polarity of the relationship between the “exploitation” and “conservation” of nature.
In the 1950s, Lady Diana Isaac and her late husband Sir Neil Isaac, founders of Christchurch company Isaac Construction Ltd, bought a house in Harewood, on the outskirts of Christchurch. Having grown up in the English countryside, Lady Isaac wanted to have a house with some land out in the country. However, after digging a lake to irrigate their garden they discovered the property had what Lady Isaac later described as “the worst land in Canterbury”, comprising mostly of shingle – perhaps not altogether surprising given its proximity to the Waimakariri River. But the shingle was found to be a very high quality and the Isaacs began commercial quarrying on the site in 1965, which continues today. Continue reading