Stewart Island heritage brought to life in new book
Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication.
IntroductionOver 700 years since people first set foot on Stewart Island, local history came alive on Thursday night to the sound of rollicking folk songs, as the launch of a new book honouring the island’s heritage was celebrated.
Date: 25 November 2010
Over 700 years since people first set foot on Stewart Island, local history came alive on Thursday night to the sound of rollicking folk songs, as the launch of a new book honouring the island’s heritage was celebrated.
Rakiura Heritage, written by Neville Peat, has been published by Department of Conservation (DOC) and shares the stories of historic places on Stewart Island that DOC, community groups and private owners manage.
DOC Southern Islands Area Manager Andy Roberts said historic heritage in New Zealand forms an important part of who we are as kiwis, but many of the Rakiura’s historic places are in remote locations or places not suited to erecting informative signage.
“Sharing their remarkable stories is still important,” he said. “Through the medium of a book more people can learn about the interesting characters and events of the island - even those who are not able to visit.”
More than 80 friends, family, colleagues, local residents and others with connections to the island turned up to celebrate the launch.
The book was blessed on behalf of Rakiura tangata whenua by Jan West and Mr Peat was available to sign books purchased on the night.
“Stewart Island/Rakiura has a special place in the nation’s history,” said Mr. Peat. “Not only as the southernmost permanently settled corner of Polynesia but also as a foothold for early European occupation.”
Celebrations continued as Steve Barkman roused the crowd with a folk song about whaler Paddy Gilroy, who features in the book.
“The book and the singing really brought some of the characters from our history to life,” said Elaine Hamilton, curator of the Rakiura Museum. “What a great way to celebrate our history.”
Neville Peat is a well-known, prolific author on the natural and historical heritage of New Zealand. His other titles include: New Zealand’s Fiord Heritage and Subantarctic New Zealand: a rare heritage (both published for DOC); Stewart Island – A Rakiura Ramble; Tasman - Biography of an Ocean and Hurricane Tim - the story of Sir Tim Wallis, plus many more.
Rakiura Heritage retails for $35 and is available from the Rakiura National Park Visitor Centre and various other retail outlets throughout Southland.
- Rakiura Heritage is a companion volume to New Zealand's Fiord Heritage, which was published in 2007.
- Maori occupation Stewart Island / Rakiura dates back more than 700 years, and the island featured in the first few decades of European settlement and industry in New Zealand. Corners of the island that are now considered remote were once busy with the activities of sealers and whalers, and local Maori who traded with them. Intermarriage and cultural exchange began through these early interactions along the shores of Foveaux Strait and Stewart Island.
- There have been many interesting chapters in Stewart Island history including New Zealand's only tin mining field, farming, timber milling, Norwegian whalers' winter ship repairs, as well as very early conservation efforts and tourism ventures.