Maungawhau A Short History of Volunteer Action
Friends of Maungawhau 2014
While this book is primarily about the work of the Friends of Maungawhau, a volunteer group dedicated to the preservation and protection of Auckland's Mt Eden, it is also a comprehensive survey of the modern evolution of Maungawhau, focussing on the primary sources of the archaeological record, through to the ongoing collaboration to care for this most treasured Auckland landmark.
One of the founding members, Sue Bulmer, had plans drafted of the topography of the landform. In part, this shows the scientific basis of the group's approach to the care of the mountain and this is evident throughout the book. The group's imperative was — and is — to preserve the area: one of the overarching features of the research in the book is the sheer physical presence of the FoM on the mountain, and the specialized backgrounds of the respective volunteers, which is extensive.
The first part of the book focusses, of course, on the history and use of Maungawhau, and this is by far the most captivating chapter. Although archaeological evidence is lacking, a history of the parts of the mountain has been put together and there is enough in this chapter alone for a reader to depart on their own journey of research if they choose. Subsequent chapters cover in detail how the FoM have worked with iwi, the Council and within a multitude of formal processes to protect the mountain from the predictable degradation that goes along with a human footprint — if allowed.
There is a lot of detail in the latter part of the book that may lose some readers. For example, there are chapters on weeding techniques, and how the volunteer group coordinates to cope with the designated workload, but in fact any reader who may wish to either get involved with this project or, further still, embark on a similar project in their own region will find this level of detail vital.
There is an extensive reading list at the end and any reader will feel inspired by this book to take a greater interest in the landmarks that surround them, instead of viewing them as a mere tourist spot to be driven upon.
And finally, this book is well written and edited. It is user friendly. It is an excellent research tool and at the same time, informative for a layperson of local history. There are wonderful photographs of activity on the mountain peppered, with images of the Friends of Maungawhau.
Review by Katherine Stewart
Maungawhau: A Short History of Volunteer Action
Contributors: Selwyn Arbuckle, April Glenday, Judith Huntsman, Kit Howden, Melissa Marler and Bernhard Sporli. Editor: Mike Wagg Editing Ltd.
Publisher: Friends of Maungawhau Incorporated
Print, soft cover, 116 pp
Available: Time Out Book Store, Mt Eden, Auckland; or Friends of Maungawhau at firstname.lastname@example.org
Reviews on this page are of New Zealand books – that is, written by Kiwi authors.