The meaning of landscape

LMoeraki bouldersast week I attended the New Zealand Geographical Society Conference, where I presented on bush burning in the Manawatu. It was an excellent opportunity for those interested in environmental history/historical geographies, with a whole day of panels dedicated to these themes, including a panel focused on the life and works of Kenneth Cumberland (who although a geographer, explored historical geography through much of his work). Continue reading

The battle for Rai Valley 1898

Swamp area in the Rai Valley, Marlborough, with horses hauling a log over a tramway bridge. Photograph taken circa 14 December 1912, by James Raglan Akersten.
Swamp area in the Rai Valley, Marlborough, with horses hauling a log over a tramway bridge. Photograph taken circa 14 December 1912, by James Raglan Akersten. Not to be reproduced without permission of Alexander Turnbull Library, ref ID: 1/2-110328-F

We tend to think of battles for the preservation of indigenous nature in New Zealand as a phenomenon of the last few decades, particularly since Manapouri. However, these battles have been going on in New Zealand well beyond our lifetimes. One early example is the battle for the Rai Valley, located between the South Island towns of Nelson and Blenheim [click here to view location]. This was classic example of the tension between development versus preservation that continues to be a central to New Zealand’s environmental history to this day. Continue reading