Landscape tells its story

Last updated 12:00 10/06/2014

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A Manawatu woman's new book explores the history of the region from an environmental point of view.

Catherine Knight's Ravaged Beauty - An environmental history of the Manawatu, released this month, tells the story of Manawatu from when Polynesian people first settled through to today.

The book takes a different approach to conventional histories and instead of the environment being a backdrop to the human "drama", it becomes a central "actor" in the story, Knight said.

"Understanding the environmental history of a place allows us to peel away the layers of the landscape we see today, and to understand the processes that have combined to create that landscape," she said.

Knight, who grew up in Manawatu, said she spent her childhood years playing on the banks of the Manawatu River.

"Yet I understood very little about the environment or its history," she said.

"I had no inkling of the five lagoons that once lay within the boundaries of Palmerston North, or their importance to the Rangitane people whose villages were invariably located next to them."

Knight is speaking at the Horowhenua District Library on July 30 as part of New Zealand Book Month.

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- Manawatu Standard

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