Hauturu, the book, had its inception way back in 1935 when my father, the late Dr W.M. Hamilton, wrote his masters thesis about the history, geology and botany of Little Barrier Island. This was the first comprehensive text on the island and was used by many students over the years. He later became the Director General of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR) and was able to update that text. With the assistance of other scientists, he could extend it to encompass much more about birds, pests, soils and seashore. This became DSIR Bulletin 137 Little Barrier Island (Hauturu) which, even though printed in 1961, was, up until now, still the definitive scientific text on New Zealand’s premier and oldest nature reserve. My first visit to the island when I was just four years old related to the beginnings of that book.
Three years ago, the Little Barrier Island (Hauturu) Supporters Trust set up a sub-committee of three trustees to update that now 58-year-old text and raise funds to enable it to be published. Our sub-committee changed when two of the trustees resigned from the trust, due to new roles with increased workloads. One became a curator at Auckland Museum and was still very involved in the book. The other is our publisher at Massey University Press! The third one, myself, became co-editor.
Dick Veitch, who was the lead wildlife officer responsible for getting rid of the feral cats on the island in 1980, has assisted me as co-editor. His wealth of wildlife experience, knowledge of Hauturu (his first visit was back in 1960) and of creating books, as well as his wide connections to the scientific community has helped to create a masterpiece.
We originally planned a book of seven chapters that would cover the changes to the island over the last 50-plus years, with seven scientists writing about these changes. What we have now is a fabulous book, which has had input from 23 authors, mostly scientists, which gives a very comprehensive, readable account of the island, its history, geology, all its species, the marine environment around the island, plus the conservation history, outcomes and hopes for the future. Forty-nine photographers, some professional, have provided amazing photos from landscapes and seascapes to gallery photos of many of the vast array of species present on the island. We were privileged to have the late Roger Grace write the chapter on the marine environment around the island, exhorting us all to do something to protect it.
The book is also a tribute to all those who have cared for the island over the years – from Tenatahi refusing to allow introduced honey bees to be brought to the island, through to the many caretakers and rangers who have been prepared to live in relative isolation to care for this jewel. And to the conservation workers and volunteers who have helped to remove weeds and pests from the island, and, of course, to the island itself – New Zealand’s ark. The books are expected to be in bookshops in the next week. It is also available through the trust website: littlebarrierisland.org.nz/Support-Us/Hauturu-Book
Mahurangi Matters has one copy of Hauturu to give away. To go in the draw, email your contact details to firstname.lastname@example.org. Put “Hauturu” in the subject line. Competition closes on Monday, September 30.
Lyn Wade, Little Barrier Island Supporters Trust