A couple of weeks back, I took the train to the Wairapara. Emerging from the tunnel through the Rimutaka Ranges (which at 8.8 kms is one of the longest train tunnels in New Zealand), the landscape was striking. What impressed me was the sheer scale of the agricultural plains: the indigenous forest that once covered the hills and plains long ago replaced by an orderly patchwork of fields. But a second glance down onto the plains to the east revealed the presence of a large watery expanse: not blue, exactly – more swirls of green and brown – but unmistakably a lake. Continue reading
Forest clearance in 1880s New Zealand – the views of Mrs Robert Wilson
In 1962, A.G.S. Bradfield published “The Precious Years”, a sequel to his earlier book “Forgotten Days”; both books recounting stories of the “pioneering days of Palmerston North and Districts in the Manawatu”. These are charming little books, in which Bradfield draws on first-hand memories of older Manawatu residents, giving it an authenticity and poignancy that would not be achievable today, nearly half a century on. Continue reading
The attack of the killer bunny
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
Need a job done? See new “Services” page
A new Services page outlines the services that are now on offer by Catherine Knight, the convener and primary contributor to the envirohistory NZ website. These services include: research, policy and analysis, writing, editing, proofreading and Q&A. Catherine is also able to offer expert Japanese to English translations! See the Services page for more details of services and to view Catherine’s portfolio.
The abandonment of Palliser Bay – a prehistoric case of environmental degradation?
Archaeological evidence shows that Maori occupied the south-east coast of the North Island, including Palliser Bay, by the 14th century. Research in the 1970s by Foss and Helen Leach of Otago University showed that people lived in small settlements at stream and river mouths. The people were both gardeners and hunters and gatherers, reliant on what they could take from the forest, rivers, streams, coastal lagoons and the sea – the main sources of food were likely to have been small birds, fish, seals and kūmara (sweet potato). There is evidence of about 300 people in six separate communities on the eastern side of the Palliser Bay. Yet by the 1600s these settlements had gone. Continue reading