The river as a metaphor

wairau-riverMy call out for poems about New Zealand rivers got an immediate response! Thank you to a certain olive farmer of Awatere Valley, who alerted me to this poem by Eileen Duggan. Certainly one from the “river as a metaphor” file – for love, in this case. The metaphors come thick and fast in this one! Continue reading

Wairau River – ancient and modern engineering

Plan of lagoons and channels dug by Maori at the mouth of the Wairau River, drawn by J.L. D'Arcey Irvine. Alexander Turnbull Library, MapColl 832.2gmtb [pre-1840] Acc. 120
Plan of lagoons and channels dug by Maori at the mouth of the Wairau River, published by W. L. Skinner in 1912. Alexander Turnbull Library, MapColl 832.2gmtb [pre-1840] Acc. 120
In 1963, a major engineering feat was completed on the Wairau River, in the Marlborough district: the Wairau diversion.  The diversion created two Wairau Rivers, one following its original course, which meanders south-east into a network of lagoons, before reaching Cloudy Bay at Wairau Bar. The “new Wairau River” was a channel that connected the river through a cut eastwards to the sea. Continue reading

“Doing environmental history” on the Wairau Plain

The Wairau Plain is a triangular-shaped plain which surrounds Blenheim, wedged between mountains and hills to the north and south, and ending with the sea to the east (click here to view map). It was once an extensive swamp, fed by the Wairau River, which originates in the northern ranges of the Southern Alps, and flows north-east into Cloudy Bay, in the Cook Strait. But the swamp has long since been drained, the river controlled to flow in a more “orderly” fashion, and the land turned to agriculture, horticulture and other “productive uses” – most notably, viticulture. Continue reading