The first New Zealand acclimatisation society probably started in Auckland in 1861. It was focused on introducing “all manner of new species as long as they were ‘innoxious’.”
Innoxious means harmless, and we all know now that the introduction of some species to New Zealand has been far from harmless to endemic species of flora and flora. But the introduction of such things as deer, chaffinches and skylarks was, in the main, to give settlers a reminder of home. In my research it seems to me that there were three kinds of acclimatisers. Those who just wanted to be reminded of home, surrounded by familiar sights and sounds. Those who saw it as God’s work to bring the superior creatures of their homeland to the heathen world – to improve on nature. And finally those who wanted to continue their country pursuits by releasing animals just for the purpose of then hunting them to death again. The first kind I can sympathise with – I miss robins too. The second, I can’t quite accept. Who are we to say that one creature is more superior than another? And the third, well I have never been a fan of guns for sport, let’s leave it at that!
In all cases the acclimatisers had the best of intentions. But what a different country we would call home if there were no rabbits to wreak havoc on our high country land, no gorse swamping our hillsides, no mustelids killing our ground-dwelling birds, no hedgehogs eating our native birds’ eggs. (One day I will write a book about the demise of the Huia. It may have a happy ending).
Sometimes researching a new book can be tedious, but not in this case. I needed some facts to fit the story of Lucy’s creatures, brought from England in cages. Finches, larks, pheasants and doves. Lucy meets Basil Drummond, a local acclimatiser, and we have a taste of romance between them. But when Mr Drummond shows himself to be in the third group rather than the first, well, let’s just say there’s a falling out between them!
It has been fascinating. If you want to know more, try Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand – I kind of wish the zebras on Auckland streets had been a thing, though!
Look out for Lucy’s story in Book 2 of the Applecross Saga, ‘Shepherd’s Delight’. Due out in spring 2019.
That title reads like a link to the local Garden Centre – but no, this is the list of invasive weeds that will be targeted in the Hopkins River and Dobson Valley area on the western edge of the Mackenzie Basin. Whereas we would probably enjoy these plants in our gardens, they thrive in the wild and have the ability to affect the natural ecosystem in which they grow. None of these plants would have been here at the time that James and Sophia set up Applecross. Great to see they will be replanting with native species too.
Read more here :-
If you’ve read the Prologue in The Wideawake Hat you would have met Hinewai, the maori girl who catches an eel for supper. Hinewai, who’s name means ‘water maiden’, we find out later, is Atewhai’s mother.
Hinewai is also the name of an ecological restoration project on Banks Peninsula, privately owned and managed by the Maurice White Native Forest Trust, but freely open the public on foot. It is a magical and beautiful place. Hinewai celebrates its 30th birthday this year and a film has been made to celebrate. I recommend it to you.
Fools & Dreamers is a 30-minute documentary telling the story of Hinewai Nature Reserve, on Canterbury’s Banks Peninsula, and its kaitiaki/manager of 30 years, botanist Hugh Wilson. We learn about the commitment of Hugh and the Maurice White Native Forest Trust to regenerate marginal, hilly farmland into native forest, using a minimal interference method that allows nature to do the work, giving life to over 1500 hectares of native forest, waterways, and the creatures that live within them.
Time to tickle your tastebuds for Book Two of the Applecross Saga – due for publication Spring 2019. (Spring in the Southern Hemisphere, that is!)
Without giving too much away, the working title of the book is ‘Shepherd’s Delight’ and the subjects of my research include (in no particular order) :-
The continuing story of Sophia and James and their friends and family, with the addition of a few new faces, and one or two we lose as well (tissues required).
Someone is looking for James………..?