Small Holes in the Silence

The beauty of rain

I can hear you making
small holes in the silence
rain

Hone Tuwhare, Rain

A long time muse of art, music and literature, rain is the one meteorological phenomenon that fires the imagination like no other.

Home Sick

Walking in and out

It was a cold day at the tail end of winter, and after only a couple or so hours in the bush we were there, Atiwhakatu Hut. ‘Soulless,’ someone had written in the intentions book, and it’s true that inside it was a big and empty space. But then all the essentials were there: log burner, axe and candles.

Tararua Love Song

Reading The Tararua Book

I once saw a news story about up and coming creative types that referred to them using the word ‘slashies.’ It was supposed to be a shorthand for people self-labelled as photographers/writers/designers, that sort of thing. But these cultural jacks of all trades are nothing new as the late John Rundle’s biography proves.

Moas, Moose and Moehau

New Zealand's bush mysteries

I was nine when a moa sighting made headlines. Paddy Freaney, the owner of the Bealey Hotel and a former SAS soldier, was hiking with two others in the Craigieburn range when they supposedly encountered a moa. It was a large reddish brown thing, which promptly ran away. Freaney took photos of it, and also documented its footprints.

Hew and Cry

The art of axemanship

All worries fall away as the blade bites and the grain magically breaks its bonds. The log cleaves in two and the pieces drop to the ground with two satisfying thuds. This is the art of wood splitting. Part ritual and part chore, the beauty is in the repetition, the labour, and the smell of freshly split pine.

It Can Just as Easily Detract

A review of 'A Tramper's Guide to New Zealand's National Parks'

On the promise of a foreword by Sir Edmund Hillary, I picked up a copy of A Tramper's Guide to New Zealand's National Parks at a local book fair. It turned out Sir Edmund's essay wasn't as absorbing as I had hoped, he only wrote a few hundred words. Although the book itself turned out to be more useful than I had thought.

The Woman who Married a Bear

Sarah Jane Barnett on the mythical animals of Fiordland

Early this year I wrote a poem about black bears being released along the Rangitata River. It was the final in a series of six poems that make up my forthcoming collection, WORK (Hue & Cry Press). The poem was sparked by an article about moose being released in New Zealand in the early 1900s.

Swamp Thing

Exploring wetlands

There’s a wetland near where I live, a small part of a reserve bequeathed to conservation by a local farmer. I say wetland, but I have to admit a fondness for the word swamp. It’s always struck me as onomatopoeic, the sound of a misstep into the mud.

Deer Country

Riding the Timber Trail

‘Watch out for hunters. It’s the middle of the roar,’ says Edwina.

She sounds serious. I try to calculate the likelihood of two mountain bikers being mistaken for deer. It seems improbable. But the only time I hear about hunters is in the news when they’ve accidentally shot each other.

A Gateway Book

Reading guide books

It doesn’t have the heritage of a Moir’s Guide, or the buy local appeal of one of the many great books by Shaun Barnett or Mark Pickering, but it’s the one I started with: Lonely Planet’s Tramping in New Zealand. I was given it for a Christmas or a birthday maybe. That I don’t remember.

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