Latest issue of Environment & Nature in New Zealand

The first issue for 2011 is a bumper one, containing a rich variety of writing on the environment. First up, Victoria University of Wellington’s Amy Davis provides a fascinating examination of the environmental history of the Wellington suburb of Karori. In the next article, Lily Lee and Ruth Lam examine the story of Chinese market gardener and entrepreneur, 陈达枝 Chan Dah Chee, and the family business he established. In the first of three book reviews, David Young reviews the recently-published Seeds of Empire…, one of the fruits of a multi-disciplinary Marsden-funded project led by Professors Tom Brooking and Eric Pawson. Next, Ondine Godtschalk examines the new overview of New Zealand’s quarantine history, by public historians Gavin McLean and Tim Shoebridge. The last is by Australian-based garden and heritage writer, Stuart Read, who reviews Kristin Lammerting and Ferdinand Graf von Luckner’s Inspirational Gardens of New Zealand. Finally, Ruth Morgan, University of Western Australia, overviews the ‘Nature, Empire and Power’ conference, held at the University of Waikato in December 2010. Read the latest issue of ENNZ online or download it as a PDF. – James Beattie....

Editorial Introduction

James Beattie The first issue for 2011 is a bumper one, containing a rich variety of writing on the environment. First up, Victoria University of Wellington’s Amy Davis provides a fascinating examination of the environmental history of the Wellington suburb of Karori. In the next article, Lily Lee and Ruth Lam examine the story of Chinese market gardener and entrepreneur, 陈达枝 Chan Dah Chee, and the family business he established. In the first of three book reviews, David Young reviews the recently-published Seeds of Empire…, one of the fruits of a multi-disciplinary Marsden-funded project led by Professors Tom Brooking and Eric Pawson. Next, Ondine Godtschalk examines the new overview of New Zealand’s quarantine history, by public historians Gavin McLean and Tim Shoebridge. The last is by Australian-based garden and heritage writer, Stuart Read, who reviews Kristin Lammerting and Ferdinand Graf von Luckner’s Inspirational Gardens of New Zealand. Finally, Ruth Morgan, University of Western Australia, overviews the ‘Nature, Empire and Power’ conference, held at the University of Waikato in December 2010. It is also my pleasure to introduce two new associate editors to readers of ENNZ: Dr. Catherine Knight is an independent researcher, who is employed by day as an environmental policy analyst. Her research focuses on New Zealand and Japanese environmental history. Her doctoral thesis explored the human relationship with the Asiatic black bear through Japanese history (available here). She is particularly interested in upland and lowland forest environments and how people have interacted with these environments through history. Her publications can be viewed here. Catherine also convenes an online environmental history forum which explores New Zealand’s environmental history. Dr....

‘For Beauty and Health’

Nature and Environment in Suburban Karori, Wellington[1] Amy Davis   Tho’ for Europe’s bold races there are plenty of places Adapted as homes for the great and the small, Yet for onward progressing and beautiful blessing There is one whose position is far beyond all – So haste where kind Nature’s arrayed in her glory To pleasant, romantic, suburban Karori. [2]   Selected images of the built environment were central to the presentation of suburbs as modern living spaces, with the ‘natural’ environment providing ways for suburban residents to understand and take pride in the space they lived in. This paper explores the extent to which ideas of native landscape were interlinked (and came into conflict) with ideas of the suburban landscape within the Wellington suburb of Karori during the 1930s. As the poem above suggests, the idea of the suburb as a progressive, modern, and beautiful space where ‘Nature’ lives is one that dominated descriptions of Karori. This article will examine how the landforms of suburbs – vegetation, housing, and streets – are intertwined with the social, political, economic, and environmental values and ideals that have driven the continued representation of suburban environments as ideal living spaces. Beginning with an introduction to the historiography of suburban environments, and a brief history of the Karori area, this article will examine the environmental images that helped to determine the shape and character of suburban Karori. Suburban historiography The history of the suburbs is generally viewed as a subfield of urban history. Most historiography is concerned with the origins, growth, and politics of suburbs, as well as the social structures they...

陈达枝 Chan Dah Chee (1851 -1930)

Pioneer Chinese Market Gardener and Auckland Businessman[1]  Lily Lee and Ruth Lam Chan Dah Chee 陈达枝, or Ah Chee as he was more commonly known,[2] was one of the most prominent and influential businessmen in the early years of Chinese settlement in Auckland. From his arrival in 1867 to his departure in 1920, Ah Chee contributed greatly to the growth and development of the Chinese business and market gardening community. Ah Chee spent over fifty years in New Zealand and deserves to be remembered as one of Auckland’s first Chinese pioneers in market gardening and business. This story of Ah Chee is not only of a pioneering entrepreneur, but serves to highlight the significance of the Chinese contribution to market gardening and fruit and vegetable retailing more broadly. This story is not a complete account of Ah Chee’s life, rather it seeks to provide an insight into how he lived and a sense of what it was like to be an early Chinese market gardener in his time.[3] The Story of Ah Chee Born in 1851, Ah Chee grew up in the village Mong Ngow Dun望牛墪, Tung Goon东莞, China. At the age of 16, Ah Chee and his two brothers left their village in search of greater opportunities and the sun gum saan, meaning ‘new gold mountain’, the colloquial Chinese name for New Zealand and Australia. In 1867[4] Ah Chee and his brothers arrived in Auckland.  Originally they had planned to travel to Dunedin (possibly to the Otago goldfields), but such was their seasickness that when the ship stopped in Auckland they too stopped to get off and stay.[5]...

REVIEW: Seeds of Empire, The Environmental Transformation of New Zealand

Tom Brooking & Eric Pawson, Seeds of Empire, The Environmental Transformation of New Zealand, L.B. Tauris, London, New York, 2010, 256 pp., ISBN 978-1845 117979.  David Young  This is a bold venture with a bold title and an even bolder subtitle, one in a series of such books examining “how and why our environment changes”. Supported by a Marsden Grant, its editors have commissioned a strong group of contributors from the three South Island universities to develop this enterprise, including besides themselves: Paul Star, Vaughan Wood, Peter Holland, Jim McAloon, Robert Peden and Jim Williams. Written with an international academic teaching audience in mind, each essay sets out its intentions in an introduction and then follows its analysis with a formal conclusion. While essays are pithy and spare, together a wide range of topics is covered, so that the overall effect is of discursiveness, but with a relentlessly sharp, schematic focus chapter by chapter. Seeds of Empire begins with the naturalization of grasses in a land previously of wetlands, forests and tussocks that had evolved largely for anything but what was to come – ruminants and large mammals. The book then seeks to explain how through experiment and trial and error, settlers began to develop grass seed that suited a range of the soils and conditions that New Zealand experiences, as well as the animals that they introduced. Settlers’ first discovery was that once forests had been felled and fired, the flush in the nutrient-rich ashes lasted no more than a few seasons. Then came the quest for permanent pasture, and hence the nation’s Faustian bargain with guano began....