Category Archives: Land Use

Land Degradation – One Insidious Step at a Time

“Once again, the principal villains across Greece, Southern Italy, Southern France, and Spain, were fires, goats, and timber felling. … Able to thrive anywhere, goats often create an environment in which little but goats will survive.” Ronald Wright. A Short … Continue reading

Posted in Land Use, Neoliberalism & Corporatism, Reimagining, Thought Pieces | 7 Comments

Shelter from the Storm

It is hard to remember during the sunny days of summer that we had some freak snow storms back in August, and a few wintry blasts in early October.  The television news ran lamb death stories, as they did the … Continue reading

Posted in Land Use, Thought Pieces | 3 Comments

Review – The Secret Life of Cows by Rosamund Young

Rosamund Young’s The Secret Life of Cows gives far more than a simple description of animal personality, behaviour and communication.  It speaks also to and of humanity.  What animals eat impacts on their health and the quality and taste of their … Continue reading

Posted in Land Use, Reimagining, Thought Pieces, Ways of Seeing | 1 Comment

Reimagining Landscapes I: Rejecting the Machine

How do you separate the personal from the professional?  We are taught to deal in the ‘objective’, in measured things.  But the whole idea of reimagining how we look at landscapes – our so-called ‘working lands’ of farms and forests … Continue reading

Posted in Alternative Vision, Land Use, Land use strategy, Landscape function, Reimagining, Thought Pieces, Ways of Seeing | Leave a comment

Reimagining the Potential of Landscape I: Start with the Deeper Story

This is a paper in two parts, or perhaps three.  This first part looks to some of the mechanical assumptions within New Zealand’s colonial land management, and a glimpse at the potential by shifting that view.  There is so much … Continue reading

Posted in Land Use, Thought Pieces | 2 Comments

Ruataniwha Dam will Transform the Region

Regional Councillor Debbie Hewitt is quite right that should the Ruataniwha Dam go ahead it will be “absolutely transformational” (quoted in Hawke’s Bay Today April 2017).  You need only look to Mid-West rural America, whose communities were also sold the … Continue reading

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The Future of Managing Water in our Landscapes – Go Local Scale

There are so many examples both past and present where taking a decentralised approach to managing water in dry landscapes provides multiple benefits.  Such examples tend to be low capital as well as suited to a particular people and place – … Continue reading

Posted in Land Use, Thought Pieces | 4 Comments

The Wisdom of Intimacy

Edward Abbey – he of Desert Solitaire, one of the classics questioning the values of our modern world – wrote a short and scathing essay of a laboratory scientist intent on studying dog behaviour because “no one had done it … Continue reading

Posted in Land Use, Thought Pieces, Ways of Seeing | 4 Comments

Who is a Forester, a Farmer, A Fisher?

These are the sentiments of a husbandman, a farmer, a forester.  You can teach all the agronomic head stuff you want, pile on the degrees; but if you don’t have the heart to see more in land, plants, animals and … Continue reading

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What’s Good about Gorse

I recall some time in the distant past having to put up with Wordsworth going on a bit about ‘golden’ daffodils.  Saccharine sweet.  They’re not even golden.  More yellow really – similar to broom.  Now for the colour of deep, … Continue reading

Posted in Land Use, Landscape function, Thought Pieces | 2 Comments

Four Arguments Against GM Food Production

The argument for GM Food is supported by those taking a number of positions: 1. That GM will increase food production and we need to feed the world (false on both counts); 2. that GM will provide business opportunities for our … Continue reading

Posted in Land Use, Thought Pieces | 5 Comments

Greed, Cruelty & Ingratitude – and a Short Future

I’ve been reading David James Duncan’s The River Why.  The movie does absolutely no justice to this book.  I suppose big philosophy books like Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, or Catch 22, will always struggle to get the questions … Continue reading

Posted in Land Use, Thought Pieces | 2 Comments

Rebuilding our Relationship with Land – The Emerging World View

Here lie so many interesting questions – the idea of land ‘ownership’.  Is it a modern social construct? We used to live in tribal common lands – in much of Europe as well as in Aotearoa; in land referred to … Continue reading

Posted in Land Use, Thought Pieces | 3 Comments

Reforming our Regional Economy II – Making Magic in the Landscape

In the late 1940s my father came down from the East Coast to be a shepherd on Omakere Station in Central Hawke’s Bay.  Part of the work was removing regenerated shrublands of manuka and kanuka and turning them into pasture … Continue reading

Posted in Building Regional Economies, Land Use, Thought Pieces | 4 Comments

Reforming our Regional Economy I: Value over Volume

Why do we manage land the way we do?  Why does New Zealand focus on ever-more gross production over a great scale of sameness?  Why do we talk of “feeding the world” when we can at best feed 40 million … Continue reading

Posted in agricultural strategy, Building Regional Economies, Industrial Mindset, Land Use, Land use strategy, Primary Sector Strategy, Thought Pieces | 4 Comments

A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall …. Unless

I had an interesting conversation today heading into the beauty of the Eastern Wairarapa on the road to Castlepoint and Riversdale.  The question was put, why do you even care about the future?  The planet will be fine.  People are … Continue reading

Posted in Land Use, Thought Pieces | 2 Comments

Creating Disorder and the Capacity to Renew

What does stability mean?  How do you provide for it?  If you are student of ecology you see patterns of disturbance everywhere.   Stability comes from dancing through the inevitable disturbance.  Functional integrity comes from a position of accepting change … Continue reading

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The Art of Space – Realising the Potential of our Lands and CityScapes

I am struck by the similarities we face when we look at land and cityscapes.  Patterns, connections, things that do many things at once, that mean this as well as that.  You have to hold a few ideas simultaneously in … Continue reading

Posted in Land Use, Thought Pieces | 2 Comments

Teaching Wisdom – To Know the World, you Have to Live in the World

“To know the world, you have to live in the world.” Carol Black has written a beautiful and insightful essay on connection between children and the outdoors, knowing, and what education ought to be.  It resonates with me.  I think … Continue reading

Posted in Land Use, Thought Pieces, Virtues, Ways of Seeing | 9 Comments

Everything is Connected: Make it Sing

I’ve used this diagram often when talking about land use. But it is so much more than that. The connections between and among things, patches, processes, dollars, functions of soil, stock, trees, wetlands, water and thought – many not quantifiable, … Continue reading

Posted in Land Use, Thought Pieces | 1 Comment

Connections – Harm People and the Land, and you Harm Your Future.

Letter to the editor sent to the Hawke’s Bay Today 28th August 2016.   Context.  We are currently experiencing polluted drinking water, the result of intensive farming locally.  Some old people have died from infections impacting on underlying health issues. … Continue reading

Posted in Land Use, Thought Pieces | 1 Comment

Putting Culture back into Nature

We have spread across and changed our world. Change is the constant. But it is maintaining the integrity of our systems that is more important than whether there is any particular ‘natural state’. Continue reading

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Our Land is not an Industry

“To heal is to make whole.  This applies as well to the ‘industries’ of landscapes: agriculture, forestry & mining.  Once they have been industrialised, those enterprises no longer recognise landscapes as wholes, let alone as homes for people and other … Continue reading

Posted in Land Use, Thought Pieces | 3 Comments

Would you Commoditise Rain?

We are heading for a winter drought in Hawke’s Bay.  Nothing on California’s situation.  But I find myself longing for heavy rain.  A cloudburst that goes on for a few hours.  I want to just sit and listen, and smell, … Continue reading

Posted in Land Use, Thought Pieces | 4 Comments

Creative versus Extractive Economies

The sands of Iraq and the karst mountain bones of the Grecian hills tell a story. These were once fat lands; the Tigris/Euphrates fields of Sumer, the Arcadia of Greece. They were once Mediterranean empires, now struggling countries of a … Continue reading

Posted in Building Regional Economies, Land Use, Thought Pieces, Wicked Problems | 12 Comments

Are GMOs New Zealand’s Agricultural Future?

The debate about the future of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in Hawke’s Bay (and NZ agriculture) is heating up.  A number of opinion pieces are reacting to this government’s attempts to take legislative decision making out of the region’s hands. … Continue reading

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Wanderings of Henry David Thoreau I

  Henry David Thoreau, Extract from ‘Baker Farm’, Walden Sometimes I rambled to pine groves, standing like temples, or like fleets at sea, full-rigged, with wavy boughs, and rippling with light, so soft and green and shady that the Druids … Continue reading

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Industrial Farming: The Deeper Roots of Animal Cruelty

My father was a gentle stockman, and he cared for people the same. He taught us how to hunt up and how to use presence and eye when mustering, and how not to push cattle too hard. He had a … Continue reading

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Climate Change: from a Protest to a Movement

We dread the horror documentaries on climate change. “This is what is happening. If we don’t do something about it, these are the consequences.” It has the effect of stunning us. It’s better to put our head under a rock. … Continue reading

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Becoming Native to a Place

I am searching for farm landscapes (farmscapes); researching & writing something about how to look at land as other than a utilitarian set of ‘resources’, a list of measurable ‘nouns’ to put on a truck with a weight and a … Continue reading

Posted in Land Use, Thought Pieces | 3 Comments

The Trans-Pacific ‘Partnership’ and Our Environment

The very idea that the Trans-Pacific ‘Partnership’ (TPP) is good for the environment (Craig Foss MP Hawke’s Bay Today 26th October) is arrant nonsense.  More than that, it is wilful distortion. While Mr Foss might have the privilege of knowing what clauses … Continue reading

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Ways of Seeing II: The Mechanical View and the Treadmill of Techno-Fixes

This is the second in a series.  I wanted to write about where we have come from in land use and conservation, what we are doing, and where we could be going: from Pre-modern (Pre-Industrial), To Modern (Industrial, or Productivist), to … Continue reading

Posted in Land Use, Ways of Seeing | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Irrigation in New Zealand and yet more Propaganda

The following was submitted to regional papers in response to an opinion piece written by Andrew Curtis from Irrigation NZ in early September 2015. Irrigation NZ’s Andrew Curtis’s comments (3rd Sept 2015) about land use and irrigation – as well … Continue reading

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Propaganda and the Rhetoric of the Ruataniwha Dam

“Political language… is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” George Orwell I was taught propaganda at school. Our English master, Mr Brown, liked words. He had an inspirational … Continue reading

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Ways of Seeing I: Paradigms of Progress – the Rise of the Machine

Preamble.   This is the beginning of a series.  I wanted to write about where we have come from in land use and conservation, what we are doing, and where we could be going: from Pre-modern (Pre-Industrial), To Modern (Industrial, or … Continue reading

Posted in Land Use, Resilience Thinking, Socio-ecological Systems, Ways of Seeing | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Regional Development – Thinking Short & Narrow or Long and Broad

Wairarapa MP Alistair Scott’s opinion piece regarding the environmental record of New Zealand’s National led government (Hawke’s Bay Today 26th July 2015) is so full of errors, misrepresentations and clichés that it is difficult to know where to start. At its … Continue reading

Posted in Building Regional Economies, Land Use, Resilience Thinking, Socio-ecological Systems, Thought Pieces | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Some Water Myths – and a Few Science Myths as well

The following was published in the Hawke’s Bay Today 4th July 2015. I was surprised at the title of Dr Jacqueline Rowarth’s 30th June talk to an audience of the Hawke’s Bay Rural Business Network: “Water – urban myth and … Continue reading

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Reframing our Water as a Commons

This article was published in the Hawke’s Bay Today following the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s (HBRC) decision to allow an overseas water bottling plant to take water from the high quality aquifer that lies beneath the cities of Hasting and Napier. … Continue reading

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Seeing the World System of Weeds – Or – Do Androids dream of Intelligent Sheep? A Compleat Ramble

An anecdote about our research focus on ‘weeds’.  I was a little mischievously provocative about our ‘weed’ research at Otago University.  I remembered an Aldo Leopold article in one of my books of his essays (no, I can’t be bothered … Continue reading

Posted in Land Use, Resilience Thinking, Socio-ecological Systems, Thought Pieces, Wicked Problems | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Future Goals and Options in NZ Land Management – A Transdisciplinary View

A brief argument from some years ago to rethink land use in New Zealand “If we go through a list of some of the main problematiques that are defining the new Century, such as water, forced migrations, poverty, environmental crises, … Continue reading

Posted in Land Use, Resilience Thinking, Thought Pieces, Wicked Problems | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Building Land Systems for Drought-Flood Resilience

A few notes from a morning rant “Although rainwater harvest has been accomplished by humans in virtually every drought prone region of the world for millennia, our society seems to have collective amnesia about the utility, efficiency, sustainability and beauty … Continue reading

Posted in Land Use, Resilience Thinking, Wicked Problems | Tagged , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Two strategic directions for Land Use in New Zealand: Where do we stand?

I wrote this what seems light years ago.  I think it was 2007 or 2008. This is very rough, a mind dump.  It was done quickly, and is more to do with me getting thoughts out of my mind and … Continue reading

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We do not need a Resource Development Act

New Zealand has a comprehensive piece of legislation (Resource Management Act 1991) by which the use and development of ‘resources’ is managed.  The current government is attempting to reform this legislation to make it more amenable for development interests.  Corporate lobby … Continue reading

Posted in Building Regional Economies, Land Use, Thought Pieces | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Rural Decline and the Ruataniwha Dam Revisited

I wrote this article below in response to a promotional meeting for the Ruataniwha Dam held in Waipukurau in 2014.  I’ve edited it slightly.  In early March 2016, another meeting was held, and the same justifications were made – jobs, … Continue reading

Posted in Land Use, Thought Pieces | 7 Comments

The Future of Belonging in This Place

It took 27 years for me to come home. For years I felt the lone voice screaming “Come on the Bay” amongst the red and black rugby faithful during Canterbury’s 1980s Ranfurly Shield era. In later years I facetiously referred … Continue reading

Posted in Land Use, Resilience Thinking, Socio-ecological Systems, Thought Pieces | 6 Comments

What is Development? Hawke’s Bay’s future

Whatever happens after the election, Hawke’s Bay needs a combined vision and strategy. Most protagonists agree. The real issue will be what type of strategy we get. If any strategy is based on the ideas of the past 30 years, … Continue reading

Posted in Building Regional Economies, Land Use, Thought Pieces | 1 Comment

HBRC Election 2013 – Land and Water Concerns of Federated Farmers and Irrigation NZ

The following was in response to questions asked of Hawke’s Bay Regional Councillor candidates in the 2013 Local Body Elections.  Federated Farmers and Irrigation New Zealand Questions  Chris Perley  Ngaruroro Ward, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Federated Farmers and Irrigation NZ … Continue reading

Posted in Building Regional Economies, Land Use, Resilience Thinking, Thought Pieces | 1 Comment

Alternatives to the Agricultural Industrial Model

The Central Hawke’s Bay area of New Zealand is a warm to hot summer dry environment with strong hot equinox winds.  An in-stream dam (Ruataniwha Dam) is being promoted for irrigation of 25,000 hectares of flat land.  The intensification of agriculture … Continue reading

Posted in Land Use, Thought Pieces | 2 Comments

Edible Landscapes – Away from the Factory Model

There is many an idea presented as new that has its roots in days long past. We too often forget that the way things are done now was not always so.  We too often presume that the ways of today … Continue reading

Posted in Land Use, Socio-ecological Systems, Thought Pieces | 4 Comments

Ruataniwha Dam: The Winners and the Losers

The following is an Op-ed published in Hawkes Bay Today, Wednesday 9th April 2014, in response to a column by Federated Farmers Spokesperson Will Foley promoting the dam Federated Farmer’s Will Foley highlights three conflicting issues in his defense of … Continue reading

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