While on a hunt for early accounts of acclimatisation societies in New Zealand, I found this gem – a letter to the editor of the Otago Daily Times in 1867.
(And anyone know who a “Venator” is?)
The other day, a colleague of mine asked: “Why were stoats and ferrets introduced into New Zealand? Do you know?”. I put on my best “all-knowing” face, and said “To control rabbits”. But even as I said it, I wavered with uncertainty, because it seemed so preposterous – a bit like the old lady who swallowed the spider (to eat the fly). Continue reading
Anyone with children under five will probably be cognisant of the fact that while rabbits can be very nice, they can also be very bad – Bunnytown’s “Little Bad Bunny” is undeniable evidence of this fact.
Also providing ample evidence that rabbits in the wrong place at the wrong time can have a devastating impact on the environment, the economy and peoples’ livelihoods is the rabbit’s history in New Zealand. Its history here began in the 1830s; the first certain record of its introduction dating to 1838. Continue reading
The dramatic tussock-lands of Lindis Pass are one the iconic landscapes of the South Island, and much admired by the traveler on their way from Canterbury to Queenstown or beyond. So iconic has this landscape become, it is hard to believe that while the tussock vegetation is “indigenous”, it is not “natural”. Rather, it is a human-induced landscape.
Lindis Pass is part of an extensive “dryland zone” which extends along much of the eastern part of the South Island [see map below right]. Continue reading
The earlier post on Hunting in New Zealand prompted one of our regular contributors, Paul Knight (now 74), to reminisce about his own hunting days:
When I was a child, my father used to take me fishing in Whangaroa Harbour and hunting for rabbits and hares, ducks and swans. By my early teens I had graduated to hunting deer. The purpose of both the fishing and the hunting was to keep an old freezer stocked for the family of 6. By the time I was a university student in the 1950s, I went hunting for deer by myself, traveling by motorbike with sidecar (Triumph 500 Speed Twin), mostly to Minginui Forest, west of Te Urewera National Park.
Hunting at Minginui was always successful. There was no need to get up at dawn. Even in the middle of the day you could creep up on clearings in the kanuka scrub or forest with a good chance of finding a herd of anything up to about 20 deer resting in the sun. They would make off in panic and not infrequently ran straight at me in the confusion. Continue reading
In Hunting: a New Zealand History, Kate Hunter explores the peculiar and unique development of hunting culture in New Zealand following its European settlement. She describes how working class settlers saw in New Zealand a chance to escape deprivation and class-based inequalities.
Many immigrants wrote back to family and friends enthusing about their freedom to hunt and fish, free from Britain’s game laws – which had since the 1670s restricted hunting to all but the aristocracy. The letters back to England of working class immigrants in the 1870s were full of stories about hunting pigs, goats, rabbits and birds, without fear of prosecution from the local constabulary. Continue reading