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page vi page vii


So vast and so rapid have been the alterations which have occurred in New Zealand during the past forty years, that even those who, like myself, have noted them day by day, find it difficult to connect past and present—the pleasant past so completely obliterated, the changeful present so full of possibility. These alterations are not traceable merely in the fauna, avifauna, and flora of the Dominion, nor are they only to be noted on the physical surface of the countryside: more profound, they permeate the whole outlook in regard to agriculture, stock-raising, and land tenure.

The story of Tutira is the record of such change noted on one sheep-station in one province. Should its pages be found to contain matter of any permanent interest, it will be owing to the fact that the life portrayed has for ever vanished, the conditions sketched passed away beyond recall. A virgin countryside cannot be restocked; the vicissitudes of its pioneers cannot be re-enacted; its invasion by alien plants, animals, and birds cannot be repeated; its ancient vegetation cannot be resuscitated,—the words “terra incognita” have been expunged from the map of little New Zealand.

In regard to the construction of the volume, when the writer first found himself in the family way—as authors wish to be who love their books,—his intention was only to have attempted the natural history of the run. As, however, he proceeded, chapters on physiography, native life, pioneer work, and surface alterations have been added, and the volume thus increased to its present bulk. Every subject page viii treated has been treated deliberately from a local point of view. Pererration beyond the marches of the run has never willingly been indulged; the writer lays no claim to other than local knowledge on any one of the subjects treated. No apology, therefore, is offered for the microscopic size of the canvas. Nor again is apology offered for apparent egotism in chapters devoted to the stocking of the run with man. The early failure of homo sapiens on Tutira, his ultimate acclimatisation, has been noted, as far as may be, in terms of the weasel or rabbit; he has been treated without fear or favour as a beast of the field. First and last, then, ‘Tutira’ is a record of minute alterations noted on one patch of land: for the author's purpose, indeed, New Zealand is bounded on the west by the Mohaka river, on the east by the Arapawanui run, on the south by the Waikoau, on the north by the Waikari.

Every man has his idiosyncrasy: it has been that of the writer for half a lifetime to note small things; it has interested him. Perhaps, therefore, there may be found, if not a hundred, then haply ten righteous men to share that interest—to read, mark, learn, and inwardly to digest the subcutaneous erosion of a countryside, the ancient way of the Maori, the fortunes of pioneer man and beast, the acclimatisation of an alien flora and fauna, the disappearance of the squatter, the rise of the bold yeoman in his stead.