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New book marks centennial of NZ beauty spots

New book marks centennial of NZ beauty spots

A new book celebrates 100 years since Parliament passed world-leading legislation to protect New Zealand’s scenery.

Then Prime Minister Richard Seddon introduced the Scenery Preservation Bill to prevent the destruction of New Zealand's top scenic spots – in particular, our thermal springs - and to promote our identity overseas.

In marking the centennial, which falls on 20 November, Tony Nightingale and Paul Dingwall of DOC's Science & Research Unit have written Our Picturesque Heritage 100 Years of Scenery Preservation in New Zealand, to be launched by Conservation Minister Chris Carter at Otari-Wilton's bush on 19 November.

“The passing of the Act was remarkable because it had broad political support within Parliament at a time when Government was more accustomed to passing legislation to clear land for farming,” Mr Carter said today.

"Deciding to promote such legislation was politically courageous and the legislation was also bold in international terms.”

New Zealand was three years ahead of the United States with its scenery preservation legislation, and now has more than 1500 scenic and historic reserves around the country.

The frontispiece of the book has a photo of King Dick Seddon sitting on a pile of moraine in front of the Franz Josef glacier. In introducing the Bill to Parliament, the outspoken and charismatic politician said:

“The time has come in the history of our colony when our scenery should be preserved, when the historic and beautiful places should be for all time conserved, and when we should do something to protect the thermal springs, which are of so great value to the country, from being destroyed and from falling into the hands of private individuals.”

Mr Nightingale said Mr Seddon would have been pleased that his legislation has had far-reaching consequences in New Zealand’s tourism boom.

“What surprised us in doing this project was that very little had been written about our scenic heritage, and the fact that it is a cultural artifact, created at a time and place,” Mr Nightingale said.

Four generations of scenery preservation work since the Act was passed has involved New Zealand identities such as botanist Leonard Cockayne, buried with his wife at Otari-Wilton's Bush; Surveyor-General Percy Smith; Polynesian Society member Hoani Tunuiarangi; conservationist Perrine Montcrieff; Apirana Ngata; and Member for Northern Maori Hone Heke Ngapua.

Mitre Peak at Milford Sound, Sutherland Falls, Waitomo Caves, the Central North Island volcanic plateau, Mt Taranaki, Rangitoto Island, Whanganui River, Buller Gorge, Trounson Kauri Park, the pancake rocks at Punakaiki, the gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers, Waimangu Scenic Reserve, and the Moeraki boulders are examples of New Zealand's outstanding scenic heritage represented in the book.

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