Nga Uruora: The Groves of Life - Ecology & History in a New Zealand Landscape
Ng? Uruora is an immensely important contribution to out emerging sense of nationhood. I predict that it will become a classic Simon Upton
[Ng? Uruora is] one of the most illuminating and exciting books that I have read on aspects of the natural history of New Zealand ... Park has brought the grace and lyrical qualities of a master story-teller to his writing Otago Daily Times
Ng? Uruora: The Groves of Life takes the study of New Zealand's natural environment in radical new directions. Part ecology, part history, part personal odyssey, this book offers a fresh perspective on our landscapes and our relationships with them.
Geoff Parks' research focuses on New Zealand's fertile coastal plains, country of rich opportunity for both Maori and European inhabitants, but country whose natural character has vanished from the experience of New Zealanders today. Beginning with James Cook's Endeavour party on the Hauraki Plains, and then the New Zealand Company's arrival in the valley that became the Hutt, Park takes us through the river flatlands where the imperatives of colonial settlement transformed the original forests and swamps with ruthless efficiency.
Ng? Uruora's primary journey, however, is to four auspicious places - Tauwhare on the Mokau River, Papaitonga in Horowhenua, Whanganui Inlet and Punakaiki on the South Island's West Coast - where small remnants of the plains forests' indigenous ecosystems of kahikatea and harakeke still survive. The histories of these places, what they mean to Maori, their ecological vulnerability and their significance for conservation are major concerns. Park ties these issues together through the experience of the places themselves, their magic, immediacy and beauty.
Alert to how ecology and history interact, and with respect for different ways of knowledge, Park takes issue with those ecologists who say that by the time Europeans arrived the fertile coastal plains had already been ravaged by Maori. He believes that if the last survivors of nga uruora are to become part of the quest for more sustainable ways with the land, the vital part Maori played keeping them alive last century will have to become central, once again, to their care.
Geoff Parks Ng? Uruora: The Groves of Life: Ecology & History in a New Zealand Landscape, has become a classic of New Zealand environmental writing, and has been reprinted regularly since its 1995 publication.
Geoff Park grew up at a quintessential edge of the Empire - between the primeval forest and the antipodean suburb. A passionate childhood curiosity with the former led to university training in ecology. He lives in Wellington, New Zealand. Theatre Country is Geoff's second book, and was published by VUP in April 2006.