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Preface to Second Edition

page ix

Preface to Second Edition.

Readers of ‘Tutira’ who have interested themselves in the fauna and flora of the pleasant countryside therein described will regret to hear of ever-altering conditions, antagonistic to the welfare of its native birds and native plants.

Yet so the matter stands, the particular hardship in this case being that the writer himself has been compelled to side against what he would fain cherish and protect. There is no escape for a man from his environment, from his own era, he is drawn like dust into the draught, like water into the whirlpool. To save Tutira from the devouring plague of blackberry its owner has been forced to chastise it not with whips but with scorpions, to stock it not as heretofore with sheep only, but with cattle and goats. It is the lesser evil of two immedicable calamities.

The conditions that have necessitated this treatment have already been adumbrated in Chap. XXX. There the potentialities for evil of Rubus fruticosus have been foreshadowed.

This alien plant has always since '82 been with us, and always until 1914 has been kept in check. During the war, however, when labour was unprocurable, it obtained a strangle-hold on two out-lying portions of the run.

In addition, moreover, to these local insurrections this woeful weed is advancing northwards on a ten-mile front. Because of the vast increase of sparrows, starlings, blackbirds, and thrushes, every tree, almost every shrub, offers possible perching space for seed-gorged birds.

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As already stated special diseases generate special remedies, a new practitioner, the goat, has been called in. Beneficent, providential, however, as is the nature of this beast—much might be written on the teleological aspect of the case—in preferring prickly leaves and thorny runners to grass and clover, it does not confine itself to one plant alone.

The establishment of the goat means, in fact, that, except on actual cliffs and precipices, all herbaceous growth on the station is doomed: not a seedling tree escapes, no covert remains for native birds, not a sapling but is ringed, clipped, or barked as bare as ivory.

Nor, speaking from the field naturalist's point of view—personally I would devastate a shire to save a species, but know I am in advance of my times in relative values set on man and beast,—are goats the only scourge let loose upon the countryside.

The number of cattle, too, has been hugely multiplied. Nowadays, owing to the contraction of acreage on modern Tutira, only ewes and ewe hoggets are depastured, stock, that is, requiring extra care and extra feed. No longer is it possible during a rainy season to gather in from the lighter lands of the large original run sufficient hardy wethers to keep in hand the too great growth of grass. Nor is this the sole reason why the help of cattle has had to be invoked. After half a century of stocking with sheep, the ground is growing foul. In the good old days these long-suffering animals died as described—a “natural death” of starvation or entrapment in marsh and swamp. Now certainly there are diseases of minor sorts in every flock throughout the Province. Wherefore I say that, stern necessity demanding such a course, the procedure of Rehoboam is destined to prevail over the milder mode of Solomon.

Nor—once again from the naturalist's outlook—do even goats and cattle include the whole harm done; for if these unwelcome animals are thus used to keep the paddocks bare, it follows logically that axe and slasher are not spared.

An almost naked countryside, at any rate as a counsel of perfection, page xi is to be the result, bare of trees, of scrub, of sedge. How the New Zealand avifauna has faced the change is related fully in a small volume bearing a title I do not like but cannot change. There in detail and up to date are set forth the effects on the natives: how some have sustained the shock, some disappeared, some actually increased.

It remains now only to give since 1920 a list of new alien animals, new local discoveries of native plants—and certainly not of less interest to the writer,—of new alien weeds, these “landless resolutes” from an older world.

A stoat, the first of his race on Tutira, was noted on the main road in March 1921. In this connection readers will recollect what has been said about human highways as lines of least resistance to beast as to man.

The Hedge-sparrow (Accentor modularis) appeared under conditions strangely resembling those of the first minah—one specimen, wild and scared-looking, living solitary in the neighbourhood of a certain hedge, disappearing after eight days, and reappearing—if indeed the same individual—a year later within a few yards of the original spot. Allowing for the early nesting habits of the species, this first Hedge-sparrow may be said to have arrived in very, very early spring—July of 1922. For long I had been expecting the advent of the breed; for more than twenty seasons it had been plentiful in the gardens of Wellington. Thence, from homestead to homestead, from garden to garden, it has spread northwards on a broad line between ocean and mountain range. Still passing forward up the east coast, its numbers are likely nowhere greatly to increase until the migratory fever flags and declines.

Three additional native plants, two of them ferns—Nothochlœna distans and Nephrodium Thelypteris, var. squamulosum—have been discovered since 1920. An orchid, Pterostylis graminea, makes up the twentieth member of that order noted on Tutira. It and Nephrodium Thelypteris were got within a few feet of one another near to a small patch of sphagnum moss, also the only one known on Tutira.

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Readers may recollect what has been said regarding a new alien self-established flora consequent on each new phase in the station's development. On page 247 these sentences have been penned: “I verily believe that were a menagerie to be established or a musical festival ordained, plants corresponding to these forms of human activity would be forthcoming.” Well, a menagerie has not yet been established on Tutira, nor yet a musical festival ordained.

This, however, has happened: a rock garden, albeit as yet perhaps somewhat of the Dog's Grave order, has been made, and once more, as I had anticipated, a new self-sown, self-introduced, self-shipped flora has marked a new phase of pastoral industry. On my rockeries it has been extraordinarily interesting to note in the wake of the specialised alpine flora the furtive, unobtrusive, unostentatious settlement of an equally specialised tribe of camp followers, hangers-on, and parasites.

Thus have arrived a dwarf Pink (Dianthus cinnabarinus) and a homely Draba amongst seeds ordered from Geneva, Switzerland; seed of Aaron's Beard (Saxifraga sarmentosa), possibly in soil adhering to Campanula isophylla, the parent plants of the two maybe having been housed together in some cottage window under similar domestic conditions. Two dwarf species of Linaria have appeared, one in the soil of a local gift plant, Œnothera (sp.); the other in the niche dedicated to Sanguinaria canadensis, purchased from a New Zealand nursery firm. Valerianella olitoria came up for the first time near-by imported Tulipa Kaufmanniana. The small nettle (Urtica urens), though already known to me in several Hawke's Bay gardens, did as a matter of fact also appear first on Tutira in the rock garden. I give the credit of its arrival to a generous horticultural friend in Havelock North. Malva moschata and an uninteresting Sisymbrium are also to be credited to the rock garden; so, too, are seedlings of the Birch (Betula alba), blown, I suppose, from trees some hundred yards distant. Of an Hypericum—name unknown—I cannot even guess the likely origin. As a rule, keeping careful watch always, for page xiii I dread particularly Bishop's Weed, Coltsfoot, and Stinging Nettle—none of them yet, I believe, in New Zealand,—strange seedlings are allowed to bloom once before destruction. Several times, nevertheless, I know in weeding that aliens have been destroyed unthinkingly that might have been of interest as suggesting new modes of self-colonisation.

Other weeds naturalised since 1920 are: Glyceria fluitans, Ottelia ovalifolia, Carduus pycnocephalus, Linum gallicum, Galium palustre, Brassica adpressa, Lagurus ovatus, Cryptostemma calendulaceum, Caucalis arvensis, Amaryllis Belladonna.

Of these, Glyceria fluitans and Ottelia ovalifolia have in all probability been carried by wild fowl. Carduus pycnocephalus and yellow Linum (Linum gallicum) certainly may be included amongst the Pedestrians of Chap. XXX. Brassica adpressa is also a wayfarer, a very leisurely and loitering traveller. Galium palustre, too, has reached Tutira by road. Lagurus ovatus, Cryptostemma calendulaceum, and Caucalis arvensis equally surely are to be included with other stowaways in Chap. XXV., the first having probably arrived in seed packet, or adhering to soil of some bundle of rose or fruit-trees or parcel of garden stuff; the second, without a shadow of doubt, in old sacking, straw of packing-cases, or in tent wrappings. It was flourishing on the deserted site of a considerable encampment and nowhere else. Caucalis arvensis has in all probability smuggled itself into Tutira in grain or grass seed. The beautiful pink Bella Donna (Amaryllis Belladonna) has on two occasions and in two separate sites managed to bloom by the lake edge. It is, of course, a garden escape, and equally, of course, the seeds must have been floated out of the garden during the flood of 1917, when over twenty inches of rain fell uninterruptedly on the 10th, 11th, 12th, and 13th of June. Washed ashore with silt piled high on the edges of the lake, it has germinated, and in five seasons managed actually to blossom in two spots a few yards distant the one from the other.

The bathymetrical survey of Lakes Tutira, Waikopiro, and Orakai is the long - postponed outcome of a suggestion of the page xiv Venerable Archdeacon Herbert Williams, D.D., lexicographer and mathematican.

In the latter rôle, by him were the five hundred odd soundings registered and the map made, whilst to the writer was relegated the humble necessary task of oaring.

The work was done in 1925, and will serve to show future generations the rate at which the lakes are being filled with slips from the surrounding hills. I have to thank him, too, for his Polynesian cursings. Imprinted on stonework it is to be hoped they will stave off meddlement of the level upon which our soundings are based.

Lastly, I must take this opportunity of again thanking the many friends who have from England and the United States approved of ‘Tutira.’ I may say now—speaking strictly, of course, in confidence—that the success of this work has been prodigious. Perhaps, indeed, there has been little like it in literature, though often, too, I think of the triumph of Nicholas Nickleby's first play: “At half-past five there was a rush of four people to the gallery door, at a quarter to six there were at least a dozen, and when the elder Master Crummles opened the door he was obliged to run behind it for his life. Fifteen shillings were taken by Mrs Grudden in the first ten minutes.” I don't want to boast, but I believe the revenues from ‘Tutira,’ capitalised and carefully invested, should quite easily keep me in tooth paste.

Hoping that readers will agree that this little luxury has been honestly earned, I bid them for a second time God-speed.

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