by Neville Peat
It’s probably a very low proportion of New Zealanders who can pinpoint Codfish Island accurately without clues or prompting. Confession – I was one of them, even though I find I’ve been close, on my trip to Stewart Island. I now know it lies in Foveaux Strait, off the north-west coast of Stewart Island/Rakiura.
So why did I choose to read this book? For that very reason – getting to know somewhere new. It was a whenua hou to me.
Neville Peat’s book is beautifully produced. Coloured photos on most pages are of excellent quality, and the text presents essential information in easy prose. Since I probably will never get to this island myself it serves as a vicarious visit. And a very pleasant and informative one it turns out to be.
About the names – the author explains the island was called Codfish from the early 1800s by the resident sealers, and gained the name Whenua Hou (New Land) “as a result of the mixed-race settlement” that developed there. Along the way it’s had other names too – Maori and European.
So, this small island has a long history that deserves to be remembered, and this is told in the first four brief chapters.
It is also an important wildlife refuge – particularly known for the kakapo which is now recovering from threatened extinction status due to an active management programme by DOC and Ngai Tahu iwi, and the establishment of the Whenua Hou Nature Reserve.
In 79 pages Neville Peat explains all and his book is a fitting account and description of this little gem of an island. I’m grateful to him for being able to travel there and appreciate it in this way.
Author: Neville Peat
Publisher: Dpt of Conservation/Whenua Hou Committee
RRP: $25 + p&p
Available: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone +64 3 2348192 (Te Rūnanga o Ōraka Aparima office)