RAVAGED BEAUTY: An environmental history of the Manawatu

Available from September 2018


157 x 235mm, 312 pages 

RRP: $49.99

A new, enhanced edition of this award-winning book


Only a century and a half ago, the Manawatu was a heavily forested hinterland: the floodplains were a sea of swamps and lagoons, teeming with birdlife, eels and other fish; the hills and terraces were covered with thick impenetrable forest, refuge perhaps to a few lingering moa. But within a few decades, the forest had been reduced to ashes, and the swamps and lagoons were being drained away. Progress marched across the landscape in the form of farms and settlements. 

But it wasn’t long before nature “exacted its revenge”: erosion scarred the hillsides, floods ravaged farms and towns. Pollution of the rivers saw fish dying en masse. How would the people of the region meet these environmental challenges, and what lessons would there be for the future? By “peeling away the layers”, this book tells the intriguing story of the Manawatu’s environmental history, drawn from a rich array of sources, maps and historical images. 

Download the flyer.

RRP: $49.99

Available from:

Nationwide Book Distributors www.nationwidebooks.co.nz

And all good bookstores nationwide

WILDBORE: A photographic legacy

Available from July 2018

ISBN: 978-0-473-44413-6

214 x 240 mm, approx 100 pages

RRP: $29.99

Wildbore: A photographic legacy, by Catherine Knight, explores the world of Pohangina Valley farmer Charles E. Wildbore

through his remarkable photographs. Wildbore captured the unprecedented environmental change that, by the beginning of the 20th century, had transformed a densely forested valley into farms and orderly settlements. Wildbore’s photographic legacy enables us to visualise the forests that have been almost entirely extinguished from the lowlands of the Manawatū region and, indeed, throughout New Zealand. More than that, it allows us to imagine a future where forests and wetlands are restored – to coalesce with landscapes of human endeavour.


Download the flyer or information sheet.

RRP: $29.99

Available from:

Nationwide Book Distributors www.nationwidebooks.co.nz

And all good bookstores nationwide

For cash sales or media inquiries contact totarapress@khm.co.nz or call 021 0270 4400

Wildbore in the media

Memory Lane: Scenes of everyday life captured as the bush burns, Stuff/Manawatu Standard, 25 August 2018

Time through a lens, interview with Paul Brennan on RNZ Nights, 22 August 2018

Local Focus: Environmental historian revisits once tree-strewn Pohangina Valley, New Zealand Herald, 3 August 2018

Focusing on the past for the future Stuff/Manawatu Standard, 29 March 2018.

Photo highlights from the launch of Wildbore: A photographic legacy

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