OPINION: It is 60 years now since my siblings, neighbours and I explored the bush, creeks and rivers of the Redan, Mokoreta, Mimihau, Waiarakiki, Oware, Wyndham and Glenham areas.
Is there still an abundance of 1.5 to 2-metre-fat eels to be found swimming in the creeks and rivers?
Are there still green frogs and tadpoles living in the ponds?
Are there caddisfly, damselfly and dragonfly larvae crawling in abundance under the clean stones of these rivers and creeks?
Are there multitudes of fat 10cm brown minnows swimming in the creeks and rivers?
Are there many freshwater crayfish crawling in these waterways?
Is the water clear, clean cold and able to be drunk as it comes out of the bush?
Are there skinks to be found on the rocks in the summer sun?
Have red admiral and magpie moth butterflies been seen in the last Southland summers? (magpie moth butterflies need ragwort for their caterpillar stage.) Are wild pigs and deer still living in the bush?
Does the clematis still flower white in the bush with the red rata and yellow kowhai?
If the answer is ''yes'' to all these questions, then the land of my childhood is still there for my grandson to enjoy as we knew it and the changing farming practices and development of these areas has been handled with responsibility over the years.
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