University of Waikato
Welcome to the first issue of 2009. Much of this issue is given over to a special edition of selected papers from Developing Trans-Tasman Perspectives: Historical Geography Workshop, organised by Dr. Matt Henry and Professor Mike Roche, held at Palmerston North, Massey University, on 19 November 2008.
Dr. Paul Star’s article – the only article not presented at the conference – leads the issue. Star provides an extremely timely and upbeat discussion of the nature of environmental history and its disciplinary distinctiveness. He makes a strong case of the importance of New Zealand environmental history in part by discussing its historical exceptionalism, but also by noting that: ‘we as New Zealanders can learn more from Australian researchers than they can from us, but the intriguing aspect of the environmental comparison, for scholars in both countries, is the absolute contrast between the two places.’
The remaining three articles – each presented at the Developing Trans-Tasman Perspectives: Historical Geography Workshop – develop the Australasian environmental comparisons Star calls for. Dr. Matt Henry examines the making of a trans-Tasman airspace in the interwar years, noting the important role meteorology and science played in the construction of such a space. The other two peer-reviewed articles examine the trans-imperial careers of two signficant individuals whose lives spanned Australasia and beyond. Dr. James Beattie explores the changing environmental ideas of the New Zealand and Australian colonist, Alfred Sharpe (1836–1908). Professor Mike Roche examines L.M. (McIntosh) Ellis, the Canadian-born forester and first Director of Forests in New Zealand’s State Forest Service.
Finally Paul Star reviews Kirstie Ross’ recent book, Going Bush: New Zealanders and Nature in the Twentieth Century.
Postscript: Geoff Park (1946-2009)
Just before going to press, Dr. Geoff Park, ecologist and eco-historian, and friend to many, passed away. Well-known for his lyrical works on New Zealand’s enivronmental history, Nga Uruora: The Groves of Life: Ecology and History in a New Zealand Landscape (Wellington: Victoria University Press, 1995) and Theatre Country: Essays of Landscape and Whenua (Wellington: Victoria University Press, 2006), Geoff will be sorely missed by many. His obituary will follow in a later issue of the journal.