Review: Lan Yuan: A Garden of Distant Longing

Review: James Beattie and Duncan Campbell with Wynstan Cooper (Images) and Sue Wootton (Poetry). Lan Yuan: A Garden of Distant Longing (Dunedin: Dunedin Chinese Gardens Trust and Shanghai Museum, 2013). 112 pp. ISBN 978-0-473-25799-6. NZ$29.99 paperback.1 Elizabeth Kenworthy Teather2 Lan Yuan, Dunedin’s exquisite Chinese Garden, was opened to the public in 2008. Its English name, unrelated to the Chinese name, is Garden of Distant Longing, but it seems that Dunedinites just call it the Chinese Garden. Twenty years earlier, in 1998, Sydney’s Garden of Friendship opened.3 This is the only comparable garden in Australasia, possibly in the Southern Hemisphere. The two cities are very different. Sydney sees itself as the pulsing heart of an extrovert nation. Dunedin, far smaller, still wears remnants of its reserved Presbyterian origins, and is regarded by most New Zealanders as remote from the centre of the action. How it came about that Dunedin acquired this cultural gem, unobtrusively located between a shopping precinct and the newly refurbished Toitu Otago Settlers Museum, is quite a story, and it makes for a fascinating read in Beattie and Campbell’s recent book. James Ng’s ‘Foreword’ explains that, following a successful celebration of China Week in 1998, during the 150th anniversary celebrations of Otago’s planned settlement, Otago’s China Week Committee offered to gift a southern Chinese garden to the city. The garden was intended to be an enduring commemoration of the early Chinese in Otago. The first of this book’s three chapters, ‘Origins’, tells how events unfolded. Dunedin is twinned with Shanghai, so it made sense for members of the newly established Dunedin Chinese Gardens Trust to visit Shanghai...

Review: Making a New Land: Environmental Histories of New Zealand

Review: Eric Pawson and Tom Brooking (Eds.), Making a New Land: Environmental Histories of New Zealand (Dunedin: Otago University Press, 2013). 391 pp. ISBN 978-1-877578-52-6. NZ$40.00 paperback. Ruth Morgan1 The lands and waterscapes of Aotearoa New Zealand, their Maori and Pakeha understandings and their transformations, are the focus of Making a New Land: Environmental Histories of New Zealand. Edited by Eric Pawson and Tom Brooking, this volume revises and updates their 2002 collection, Environmental Histories of New Zealand (Melbourne: Oxford University Press) as a university-level textbook. A third of the chapters and figures in this edition are new, and earlier chapters have been revisited and refreshed, ensuring that each contribution is up-to-date, relevant and advances the scholarship of the field. In this review, I will focus on the most significantly reworked chapters and sections of this collection, particularly the twentieth-century section ‘Modernising’; and ‘Perspectives’, which reflects on contemporary environmental issues and themes in environmental history. Aside from a revised chapter on the grasslands in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the first three sections of Making a New Land are largely unchanged from the earlier edition. Chapters in these sections – ‘Encounters’, ‘Colonising’, and ‘Wild Places’ – examine the interactions of Maori and Pakeha with a ‘new land’ and with each other, and the environmental impacts of colonial economies and resource management. In the first edition, geographers Peter Holland, Kevin O’Connor and Alexander Wearing examined the environmental consequences of pastoralism and farming for open-country landscapes. Over a decade later, Holland has partnered with historian Robert Peden to rework this chapter and engage with the grasslands scholarship arising from their...

Review: Rivers: New Zealand’s Shared Legacy

Review: David Young, Rivers: New Zealand’s Shared Legacy (Auckland: Random House, 2013). 240 pp. ISBN 9781775534501. NZ$59.99 hardback. Joanne Whittle1 David Young is a professional writer in the fields of sustainability, history and environmental management. His books include the substantial Our Islands, Our Selves: A History of Conservation in New Zealand, published in 2004, and Woven By Water: Histories from the Whanganui River, a study of relations between Maori and Pakeha on and around that river. In his new book, Rivers: New Zealand’s Shared Legacy, Young takes us with him on an engaging series of journeys in and around eleven extraordinary New Zealand rivers. It offers a revision and significant update of Young’s earlier book, Faces of the River, published in 1986. The first edition provided one of the few collective descriptions of the country’s waterways, and this book provides an equally valuable and highly readable series of expansive essays that reflect the author’s deep appreciation of, and feeling for, these rivers. Before detailing what Rivers is about, it is important to note what it is not. It does not purport to be an ecological textbook and it is light on statistics and figures (although it does provide a useful appendix of the ‘vitals’ on the country’s major rivers). Nor is it a visitor’s guide or a coffee table book of the ‘New Zealand beautiful’ variety; we are being taken on a series of vigorous journeys, and we can expect to get our feet wet. And it will certainly do little to buttress New Zealand’s dubious ‘100% Pure’ branding. As Young points out in his introduction, it can no...

Review: Island Reserves and Mainland Islands, including a Review of Ecosanctuaries

Diane Campbell-Hunt with Colin Campbell-Hunt, Ecosanctuaries: Communities Building a Future for New Zealand’s Threatened Ecologies (Dunedin: Otago University Press, 2013). 292 pp. ISBN 978-1-877578-56-4. NZ$40.00 paperback. Paul Star1 In the last two centuries, thirteen species of New Zealand’s indigenous birds have officially become extinct, while a further twenty-four species are currently considered ‘endangered’ (that is, having a high or extremely high risk of extinction in the wild).2 Concern about this situation has prompted approaches to bird and habitat protection in New Zealand which are both intense and innovative. In contrast, Britain has at least nine species which appear on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s wide-ranging ‘red list’,3 but while these nine are threatened they are not endangered species, and only one British bird has become extinct during the period. This was the flightless great auk, the largest member of the auk family, and the bird of the northern oceans whose evolutionary development most nearly mirrored that of the penguins of the southern hemisphere. The subject of this article is the protection of New Zealand’s indigenous wildlife, but, for an environmental historical approach, telling the great auk’s story is a good way to begin. The decline of the species commenced at a time when the auk was hunted for its down, which made excellent stuffing for pillows. As it approached extinction and as collectors realised how rare it had become, large sums were paid for great auk skins and eggs. A colony of fifty birds was found on Eldey, off the Icelandic coast, in 1835, but these were soon sought out and the last pair killed in...

The Story of the Fallow Deer: An Exotic Aspect of British Globalisation

Simon Canaval1 Fallow deer have a long history of semi-domestication by humans. In antiquity they spread within Europe, and were associated with various cults of the Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans. After the Romans left Britain, fallow deer became extinct on the island, but they were reintroduced by the Normans in the eleventh century. Due to the increase of the population in Britain during the late twelfth century, which caused enormous pressure on settlement areas and game species, keeping deer in enclosures became popular. During the European expansion of the nineteenth century, deer were introduced into many British colonies. This article argues that the introduction of fallow deer in the British colonies of Australia and New Zealand can only be understood if we take a look at what Fernand Braudel called the longue durée, at centuries of British hunting culture and the special role of fallow deer within this context. This close connection of nature and culture made fallow deer an important part of British hunting culture and a desirable object for acclimatisation. Introduction Of approximately 160 huntable hoofed animals in the world, listed by Werner Trense in his book The Big Game of the World, around fifty had their range extended by humans – mostly in the nineteenth century in association with European expansion.2 Among these animals, deer played an especially important role, according to their cultural importance and the numbers translocated. As the translocation of big animals called for considerable financial input, and included the catching, shipping and release of wild animals, the protagonists were primarily members of the royal class, other landlords, and Paul Star’s ‘biota barons’...

Timber Town: A History of Port Craig

Alistair McMechan1 In nineteenth-century New Zealand, clearing the landscape was widely considered to be ‘virtuous and proper’.[2] Settler mentality generally regarded forests as inexhaustible and an impediment to progress. While their destruction represented land clearance and was demanded by the growth of settlements, indigenous forests were often also exploited for the housing and commodity markets. Until the 1880s the industry was primarily local, supplying settler needs, but wider regional and provincial industries developed, including trading with the Australian colonies. Initially, kauri forests in the northern North Island were the most exploited for commercial ends, but with the decline of the kauri industry through exhaustion of supply, less valuable natives such as rimu became the mainstay of the industry, particularly in areas once considered inaccessible but which had opened up through improved technology and transportation.[3] The First World War brought a boom to New Zealand, but it ended with the 1921 depression, the first in a series leading up to the Great Depression. In this period, exports of milled indigenous timber ‘ceased to be an important export’.[4] Increasingly protectionist through its new policies, the New Zealand timber industry had the ‘doubtful distinction’ of producing the world’s most expensive timber.[5] Against the background of a ‘fluctuating economy’ and a timber industry in transition, an attempt was made to establish a large timber sawmilling enterprise at Mussel Beach in a remote part of Southland. * Mussel Beach, or Port Craig as it became known, is situated on the south-western corner of Te Wae Wae Bay, on the south coast of South Island. Rising from the coast on marine terraces, the podocarp forest...