Environment and Nature in New Zealand, vol 5, no 1, July 2010

The latest issue of Environment and Nature in New Zealand (ENNZ) is available. This year’s issue begins with a review article by Walter Cook of Janet Waymark’s book on the British garden designer and town planner, Thomas Mawson. Paul Star considers John Andrews’ new book, No Other Home Than This: A History of European New Zealanders, and James Beattie reviews Christopher Johnstone’s sumptuous new book on the presentation of the New Zealand garden in art. Geoff Doube and Peter Sergel introduce readers to two landscape designs in Hamilton Gardens. Catherine Knight overviews an exciting new development in environmental history in New Zealand: envirohistory NZ, a website exploring New Zealand’s environmental history. Download the entire issue or browse the individual...

Editorial Introduction

James Beattie I have just dug over the vegetable garden for the first time since Winter’s arrival. Abundant crops of lemons and mandarins ripen nicely on our citrus trees. The weather, although frosty, has been bright and clear. And I am eyeing up our hedge for cutting. With my thoughts at last turning to the garden again, it is entirely appropriate, I think, that this year’s issue begins with a review article by Walter Cook of Janet Waymark’s book on the British garden designer and town planner, Thomas Mawson. Mawson was responsible for many designs throughout Britain, Europe and Canada and incidentally, had a New Zealand link, one of his sons, John (1886-1966) having shifted to New Zealand in 1928 to become Director of Town Planning.[1] Two other book reviews appear in this issue: Paul Star considers John Andrews’ new book, No Other Home Than This: A History of European New Zealanders, an environmental history of Pākehā relationship with Aotearoa that begins deep in pre-history and moves to the present. I review Christopher Johnstone’s sumptuous new book on the presentation of the New Zealand garden in art. The first of a new section appears in this issue too: an introduction to a garden or discussion of a resource pertinent to New Zealand nature. Geoff Doube and Peter Sergel introduce readers to two landscape designs in Hamilton Gardens. Catherine Knight overviews an exciting new development in environmental history in New Zealand: envirohistory NZ, a website exploring New Zealand’s environmental history. —————————————- [1] Caroline Miller, ‘A Prophet in a Barren Land: the New Zealand Career of J.W. Mawson’, in The 21st...

REVIEW ARTICLE: Thomas Mawson: Life, Gardens and Landscapes

Janet Waymark, Thomas Mawson: Life, Gardens and Landscapes, Frances Lincoln, London, 2009, pp.240, ISBN-13: 978 0 7112 2595 4 (hbk.). Walter Cook Janet Waymark’s account of Thomas Mawson’s life and work includes copious descriptions and analyses of the gardens, parks, and towns he designed, well supported by plans and photographs. Mawson (Figure 1) was the first English garden designer to call himself “landscape architect,” and as a second string to his business he took up the emerging profession of town planning. In both garden design and town planning he gained a national and international reputation. Thomas Mawson’s early life Janet Waymark’s introduction deals with Mawson’s early life and the state of Britain at the time that he established his nursery business at Windermere in the Lake District in 1885. It is very much a rags to riches story typical of the Victorian period. The lives of architect and garden designer Joseph Paxton and novelist Charles Dickens are obvious examples that spring to mind. So also is the life of one of Mawson’s wealthiest clients and patrons, Andrew Carnegie, the Scottish born, American iron and steel millionaire for whom Scotland remained a second home. Mawson’s father, John, died in 1877 and two years later in 1879, at the age of 16, like Dick Whittington, the largely self-educated Mawson was forced to leave home and seek in London, not only his fortune, but that of two brothers, two sisters, and a mother. This strong sense of family responsibility was combined with ambition, a liberal, protestant work ethic, and that great Victorian virtue of self-help. Family was important to Mawson throughout his...

REVIEW: No Other Home Than This: A History of European New Zealanders

John Andrews, No Other Home Than This: A History of European New Zealanders, Craig Potton Publishing, Nelson, 2009, pp. 364, ISBN: 978 1 877517 082 (hbk.). Paul Star Before his retirement, Professor John Andrews had a distinguished career as a zoologist at Victoria University of Wellington. His book, The Southern Ark, a history of zoological discovery in New Zealand, has had an honoured place on my shelves since its publication in 1986.[1] Over two decades later, here is a volume to place beside it. In this new book, Andrews bravely sets out to ‘describe how one group within this society [New Zealand], the pakeha or New Zealander of European ancestry, has colonised the country and learned something about it, changed it, adapted to it, and developed some affection for it’ (299). He is well aware that, ‘in a country keen to forge its own identity and make amends for its colonial history it has not always been politic to mention the European heritage’ (292). Andrews, however, wades into it. This takes him far away indeed from his home in suburban Auckland, since he begins with the origins of Homo sapiens in Africa. The first three chapters plot the temporal, spatial and cultural journey which led to some of these humans ‘becoming European’; only in part two of the book does Andrews describe the process whereby some of these European humans have landed up ‘becoming pakeha’. Andrews is intrigued that, after their lines of descent diverged near the River Indus about 75,000 years ago, European and Polynesian humans met up in New Zealand in 1642, having both reached these shores...

REVIEW: The Painted Garden in New Zealand Art

Christopher Johnstone, The Painted Garden in New Zealand Art, Godwit, Auckland, 2008, pp. 272, ISBN: 978 1 86962 141 4 (hbk.). James Beattie Christopher Johnstone’s The Painted Garden in New Zealand Art is a beautifully produced book that should appeal to lovers of gardens and garden art the world over. Containing over 100 artworks of New Zealand gardens from early colonial times to the present, The Painted Garden is testimony to the powerful place of garden-making in the New Zealand artistic imagination. An art historian and former Director of the Auckland Art Gallery (1988-1995), Johnstone selected the images for their innate aesthetic appeal as well as for their depiction of identifiable gardens owned by or known to the artist. A useful introduction surveys some of New Zealand’s main (European) garden history themes such as the vogue for the gardenesque, the introduction of exotics, and the initially gendered nature of botanical art, while each of the book’s five main parts is prefaced. Its five parts are organised into the following sections: the Early Artists (1830-1860); Later Nineteenth Century (1860-1890); Early Modern (1890-1940); Modern (1940-1970); Contemporary (1970-2008). A one-page discussion accompanies each image, placing it in its cultural, gardening and art historical setting. This allows Johnstone to guide the viewer through the image’s multiple layers and greatly enriches one’s appreciation of its aesthetic and historical significance. The book’s wide breadth, both temporally and stylistically, means that it provides a visual record of different pictorial traditions and garden styles. Traditional topographical images informed by European picturesque conventions can thus be compared with neo-pointillist garden depictions. Richard Kelly’s draughtsman-like depiction of semi-rural Dunedin...