Manawatu history talk: Totara Reserve

Dr Catherine Knight will be presenting a talk on November 2nd about the history of Totara Reserve as part of this year’s Manawatu Local History Week [click here to download programme]. Entitled “Totara Reserve: a window into Manawatu’s environmental history“, the talk will explore how Totara Reserve was preserved initially for its timber, but within a few decades, when lowland forest elsewhere in the Manawatu had all but vanished, became a prized scenic and recreational reserve. By tracing the history of the reserve, we can better understand the changing attitudes and values of New Zealanders towards our natural heritage. Continue reading

Creating our own Totara Reserve in Pohangina

For a long time before I met my husband it had been my dream to find a block of land with remnant bush (indigenous forest) on it and regenerate the bush using locally sourced species. Not long after meeting my would-be husband, I shared this dream with him, and he responded – “That is my dream too!” … Continue reading

We want your contributions!

Everyone has environmental histories to share (for example, see The lawn mower Part 2 – an enduring relationship). These are stories about our interactions with the environment, and the realisations we make from these. For instance, older people in Kapiti have shared how they used to row boats down the Waikanae River as children (but how now, the water is reduced to a trickle for much of the year and any kind of boating activity would prove a challenge). Or, people may remember catching eels or freshwater crayfish in the creek down the back of the farm as a child — a much less common children’s pastime today… Continue reading

Totara Reserve: from exploitation to conservation

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