Book Review: The Story of the Hauraki Gulf, by Raewyn Peart

Available in bookshops nationwide.Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_the_story_of_the_hauraki_gulfWhen this book arrived by courier for me to read and review my first thoughts were – what a lovely coffee table book, but it is more than that. This is a serious but very interesting look at the history of the Hauraki Gulf. From the personal anecdotes and history of the various islands and areas around the beautiful Haruaki Gulf, to the more serious issues of colonisation by Maori and Pakeha alike, the working of the land, and the overfishing of the water. Many mistakes were made over environmental issues with lessons hopefully learnt, but in many cases the damage caused has proven irreversible.

The personal stories of Ray Walters are of particular interest to me, having visited Tiritiri Matangi a number of times. His time as a lighthouse keeper with Barbara and his family is interesting to read and then his continuing involvement over a number of years working for DOC after the lighthouse was automated. There are a number of these sort of stories throughout the book under the heading Story of the Gulf. Rangitoto is another island of particular interest to me, having visited it many times over a lot of years with the Auckland Tramping Club. The baches dotted along the foreshore have a fascinating history and one that we hope won’t be lost by destroying them. Yachties have called into Islington Bay overnight for a safe harbour from the weather for many years.

This book also explores the process that Auckland went through to get our current sewerage system. The sewerage was originally discharged into the harbour killing shellfish beds with great numbers of species of fish disappearing from the inner harbour. I often look at the statue of Sir Dove Myer Robinson that sits in Civic Square near Aotea Centre and wonder what the current generation make of his actions if they know it at all. Most would have no idea who he was or what he achieved for Auckland – a sad state of affairs.

The only down side to this book is its size and weight. I struggled to read it as it is not a bedtime book – almost too heavy to hold. Travelling by aeroplane visiting family in other parts of the country I couldn’t “slip it into” my carry on, as it is far too heavy to even slip into a handbag or laptop bag. But don’t be put off, this is well worth buying and you are able to pick it up and read chapters at random. This is one book all Aucklanders should read. It really is a fantastic book. Could be a great book for study by 9-18 year olds.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

The Story of the Hauraki Gulf – Discovery/Transformation/Restoration
by Raewyn Peart
Published by David Bateman Ltd
ISBN 9781869539405

The Read: Words of the Day, Wednesday, 19 February 2014

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Book Review: Dolphins of Aotearoa, by Raewyn Peart

When I first picked up this book, I was anticipating cv_dolphins_of_aotearoaa coffee-table book full of pictures with accompanying text, and much to my delight what I found was a compelling story of a community. A community of dolphins. The book almost doesn’t focus on the dolphins per sé – of course there is the obligatory scientific and identification stuff in the beginning – but rather the book focuses on our interaction with New Zealand dolphins. Our historical interaction; our current interaction; and the potential (or not) of future interaction.

The dolphins are the centre,  and focus, of this book, but the main characters seem to be those that interact and care and spend their energy protecting them. From the Cook Strait ship masters who enjoyed almost ritual interactions with Pelorus Jack in the early twentieth century; to the children who nearly half a century later played with Opo in the Hokianga Harbour. From treasure hunter and ecologist Wade Doak who spent years swimming and communicating with dolphins; to Dr Ingrid Visser who will jump on a plane after a single phone call to help a team of dedicated individual rescue beached Orca. Many people, like Ingrid, have dedicated a lifetime to helping  dolphins and this book is about them as much (maybe more) than the dolphins.

The human interaction with dolphins in Aotearoa started long before Europeans landed in Aotearoa – Maori have always respected and revered the dolphins. Interactions, of course, increase significantly as we take to the water; and the faster we go, the more likely we are to be accompanied by a dolphin riding the bow wave.  That we may have these interactions in the future is not necessarily a given and Raewyn challenges us to transfer our passion for these highly intelligent and social creatures into a call for action. It is hard to imagine that one of these species (Maui’s dolphin) is nearly extinct.

Although conservation is at the heart of this book, it never gets in the way of a captivating story.

Reviewed by Gillian Torckler

Dolphins of Aotearoa
By Raewyn Peart
Published by Craig Potton Publishing, RRP $59.99
ISBN 9781877517983