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Our Islands, Our Selves


A history of conservation in New Zealand

David Young

Young Our Islands cover imageThe book

In this first-ever history of conservation in New Zealand, David Young explores the evolution of a conservation ethic. The book is published by Otago University Press in association with the Department of Conservation and Ministry for Culture and Heritage.

While the basis for conservation is the recognition of New Zealand's unique flora and fauna, Young contends that conservation in New Zealand is not just a need to protect this indigenous biodiversity. Conservation is also linked to a sense of identity and community.

In Our Islands, Our Selves, Young identifies the issues, personalities and organisations surrounding conservation over the past 200 years. He includes significant discussion on the cultural influences of Maori and European views of nature. He looks at the process of Maori settlement and how the need to preserve slowly became an element in the use of some resources.

Modern New Zealand has evolved from a 'quarry economy' to a modern society grappling with erosion and flooding issues, predator proliferation, and habitat and species loss. As the concerns of the nation have shifted, the approaches to conservation have also changed: from acclimatisation of exotic species to national parks, the development of island sanctuaries and, now, an ecological approach that protects relationships as well as specific flora and fauna.

Young's work illustrates how far our perceptions and actions have come, how often the country got it wrong, and what might still need to done to protect New Zealand's natural environment.

The author

DAVID YOUNG is the author of Faces of the River and Woven By Water: Histories from the Whanganui River, as well as several other books and essays.

Publication details

Hardback, 254 x 191 mm, 304 pages, colour illustrations, ISBN 1 877276 94 4, $59.95
Out of print