Top envirohistory NZ posts of all time

Young Maori girl at Te Ariki Pa. Shows her standing alongside a vegetable garden and a whare. Photograph taken in the 1880s by the Burton Brothers.
Young Maori girl at Te Ariki Pa, near Lake Tarawera, Bay of Plenty. Shows her standing alongside a vegetable garden and a whare. Photograph taken in the 1880s by the Burton Brothers. Not to be reproduced without prior permission from Alexander Turnbull Library ref. 1/2-004619-F.

Long-time envirohistory NZ followers may remember I had a fairly regular post introducing the most popular posts for the quarter or year. It’s been a while since I have done this so I thought as a celebration of envirohistory NZ’s ‘rebirth’, I would present the top 5 posts of ALL TIME (well, since 2009). So here they are:

The Scandinavian settlers of the Manawatu (first published January 2010)

Maori gardening in pre-European New Zealand ((first published June 2010)

Earthquake reveals the forgotten streams of Christchurch (first published May 2011)

Opiki Toll Bridge: graceful relic of a thriving flax industry (first published May 2011)

Waitangi Park – an urban wetland recreated (first published December 2010)

Shooting ducks at an oddly historic wetland

IMG_4199Yesterday, the family and I visited a newly-built bird hide at the wetlands in QEII Park, near Paekakariki (see Paekakariki: perch of the green parrot). This bird hide differs from the traditional duck-shooter’s “maimai”, in that the only shooting it provides for is with a camera. Continue reading

Christchurch: a city haunted by its environmental past?

It is with both horror and immeasurable sadness that I contemplate the tragic consequences of last Tuesday’s massive earthquake on the city that I lived in for 8 years, and which I still regard with immense affection. I cannot even begin to imagine how life must be like for its residents today, especially those who have friends or family who have perished. Continue reading

Waitangi Park – an urban wetland recreated

With its opening in 2006, the 6.5 hectare Waitangi Park, on Wellington’s waterfront [click here to view location], became New Zealand’s largest new urban park in 100 years. Waitangi Park is near the site of the old Waitangi wetland, which was fed by the Waitangi Stream. Rich with eel, fish and shellfish, it was used for centuries by Maori for food gathering, as a source of fresh water, and as a place to launch their canoes (or waka) into the sea. Continue reading

Wasteland to wetland transformation progresses

In a follow-up to the story on the Waikanae River restoration project, the Kapiti man behind this remarkable transformation from “wasteland” to “wetland”, John Topliff has this month received an award from Forest and Bird for his contribution to conservation in New Zealand. Continue reading

Views of Kapiti 2 – Waikanae River wetland restoration

This view, facing east along the Waikanae River just east of the Otaihanga Domain, is of a restored wetland – part of a wider regeneration project along this part of the Waikanae River. Viewed from this angle, with the bush-covered Waikanae hills in the background, it is possible to get some sense of how this part of Kapiti would have looked before it was cleared for farms and settlements in the late 19th century. Continue reading

A rare survivor – Taupo swamp

Our environmental history is littered with the stories of wetlands that were drained to make way for farmland or settlements. But in the Wellington region, there is a rare example of a substantial wetland that survived this onslaught. It is an example of how – paradoxically – an environment’s utility as a source of a commercial resource can sometimes provide for its preservation.

Over the last 150 years there were a number of attempts to drain the swamp for farming, but these attempts succeeded in only partially draining the swamp. Continue reading