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A biography of Lake Tūtira

Join us for July's Public History Talk with environmental historian Jonathan West. Jonathan will sketch Lake Tūtira’s history from formation to today, following the traces of Herbert Guthrie Smith, whose obsessive records of the changes witnessed while farming by the lake made him a founder of environmental history in New Zealand.

Join us in person or online for this event.

Learning from the past

In this talk about Lake Tūtira in central Hawke's Bay, Jonathan West will reflect on the records of Herbert Guthrie Smith who in 1882 took over the the lease of a sheep station near the lake. Guthrie Smith’s first book opened with the lines: ‘The lake on Tutira may be considered the heart of the run. It is the centre of all the station’s life and energy.’ A keen naturalist, Guthrie Smith preserved the lake as a sanctuary for his beloved birds.

But since the 1950s Lake Tūtira has faced problems – now posed much more widely – of invasive weeds, nutrient pollution, poisonous algal blooms and mass fish kills. Jonathan will conclude the talk by considering the lessons the lake's history provides for our future.

Can’t make it in person?

Can't make it in person? This event will also be delivered using Zoom. You do not need to install the software in order to attend, you can opt to run zoom from your browser.

Register if you’d like to join this talk and we'll send you the link to use on the day.

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Public history talks

These free Public History Talks are a collaboration between the Alexander Turnbull Library and Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage. They are usually held on the first Wednesday of the month, March to November.

The talks are recorded and you can find them at the Apple store, Spotify and Podbean #newzealandhistory.

Listen to previous public history talks

About the speaker

Jonathan West is an environmental historian. His first, award-winning book was The Face of Nature: An Environmental History of the Otago Peninsula. This talk results from work towards a BWB Text about Lake Tūtira. It is a part of his wider research for Mirrors on the Land: Histories of New Zealand’s Lakes, a project which Jonathan began as JD Stout Fellow 2019, intends to complete with the support of the Judith Binney Fellowship 2022, and will publish with Otago University Press.

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Aerial view of a lake surrounded by deforested hills with multiple slips.