Publications

Book: “Making Sheep Country: Mt Peel Station and the transformation of the tussock lands”, Auckland University Press, 2011

Pastoralism had a profound impact on New Zealand’s history and its landscape. Extensive sheep farming transformed the open country of the South Island, and the products grown on the grasslands - fine Merino wool, grain and later halfbred and crossbred wool, and sheep meat - provided the…

Book chapter: “Sheep Breeding in Colonial Canterbury (New Zealand). A Practical Response to the Challenges of Disease and Economic Change, 1850-1914” in “Healing the Herds” edited by Karen Brown and Daniel Gilfoyle, Ohio University Press, 2010

Sheep farming was the most important agricultural industry in New Zealand from the 1850s to late in the twentieth century. The industry was founded on fine-wooled Merinos imported from the Australian colonies, and wool was the most valuable single agricultural export until…

Book chapter: “Pastoralism and the Transformation of the Open Grasslands” in “Seeds of Empire: The Environmental Transformation of New Zealand” edited by Eric Pawson and Tom Brooking, I B Tauris, 2010

The first large-scale transformation of New Zealand’s landscape by Europeans took place in the open country of the South Island between 1841, when organised settlement began, and the turn of the twentieth century. This transformation had a profound impact not only on these grassland environments, but also on the shaping…

“Te ara” in Maori means “the pathway”. Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand offers many pathways to understanding New Zealand. When complete, it will be a comprehensive guide to the country's peoples, natural environment, history, culture, economy, institutions and society.

Website: Beef farming, Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand, 2008

Beef cattle have generally been less important than sheep and dairy cattle to the New Zealand economy. Before refrigeration, sheep farming for wool was profitable…

Website: Sheep farming, Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand, 2008 with Hugh Stringleman

Sheep farming has been crucial in the development of New Zealand’s economy. The export returns from fine wool grown on the open grasslands of the South Island…

Website: Farm fencing, Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand, 2008

Fences prevent stock from straying from one farm to another, and help to manage stock breeding. They make moving stock easy with little labour, and create…

Website: Farming in the economy, Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand, 2008

New Zealand’s agricultural production since the beginning of European settlement has been different from that of most other developed countries because…

Website: Fire and agriculture, Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand, 2008

Maori arrived in New Zealand around 1250-1300 AD. They found a land that was heavily forested, apart from the semi-arid regions of Central Otago and the Mackenzie Country…

Website: Farm buildings, Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand, 2008

Farm buildings are designed to be functional - so different types of farms have different buildings. On a sheep farm the most important building is the shearing shed…

Website: Agricultural education, Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand, 2008

Because of the significance of agriculture to New Zealand’s economy, high-quality agricultural training is important. From the early 1870s there was considerable…
The common European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) is native to Spain and Portugal, and has adapted to that region’s unpredictable Mediterranean climate. Rabbits…

Book review: “‘Ready Money’: The Life of William Robinson of Hill River, South Australia and Cheviot Hills, North Canterbury” by Margaret Wigley and “Ngamatea. The Land and the People” by Hazel Riseborough, New Zealand Journal of History, volume 41, number 2, 2007

In 2006 four quite different books were published on New Zealand’s agricultural and rural past. Gordon McLauchlan’s The Farming of New Zealand is a general history of farming from the beginning of Polynesian settlement to the present…

Book review: “People, Sheep and Nature Conservation: The Tasmanian Experience” edited by Jamie Kirkpatrick and Kerry Bridle in Historical Records of Australian Science, volume 18, number 2, 2007

At the outset I have to admit that I know Tasmania and its landscape largely through books. However, as a historian of landscape change in New Zealand’s South Island high country and a former Merino breeder in that region, I do have an appreciation of the issues that this book sets out to address. I must also say that I applaud…

Journal article: ‘“The Exceeding Joy of Burning” - Pastoralists and the Lucifer Match: Burning the Rangelands of the South Island of New Zealand in the Nineteenth Century, 1850 to 1890’, Agricultural History, volume 80, number 1, 2006

The burning of the rangelands of the South Island of New Zealand by pastoralists in the second half of the nineteenth century has been highly contentious. The dogma of ‘indiscriminate burning’ has become so entrenched in New Zealand’s environmental history that critics of burning have felt little need to provide evidence to support their assertions. Critics of…