Creating a Pastoral World Through Fire: The Case of the Manawatu, 1870-1910


  • Catherine Knight



This article examines the role of bush burning in the opening up of bush country in the Manawatu for pastoral farming. Within only a few decades, bush burns had transformed a densely forested environment into one of verdant pasture, scattered with the charred stumps and limbs of incinerated forest. The paper explores the perceptions of bush burning at the time, before examining the voices of doubt and dissent in respect to the rapid destruction of New Zealand’s native forest, both at a national and local level. Finally, the paper will seek to explain why, compared in particular to the South Island, the local voices of protest were only weak, and failed to lead to any effective action (political or otherwise) to preserve Manawatu’s forests.


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