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Park, Geoff
Writer's File

Geoff Park

Park, Geoff
In brief
Geoff Park was a highly regarded ecologist. He was also a research scientist and writer. In 1986, while a Stout Research Centre fellow, Park began work on his acclaimed ecological history of New Zealand, Nga Uruora: Ecology and History in a New Zealand Landscape (1995). Geoff Park was extensively involved in the conservation and ecological communities in New Zealand and his ecological histories are widely celebrated. His book, Theatre Country Essays on Landscape and Whenua, was published in 2006.


Park, Geoff (1942 -2009) was an ecologist and research scientist. During a 1986 fellowship at the Stout Research Centre he began researching his acclaimed ecological history of New Zealand, Nga Uruora (1995).

Nga Uruora: Ecology and History in a New Zealand Landscape was described by John Darby in the Otago Daily Times as '[o]ne of the most illuminating and exciting books that I have read on aspects of the natural history of New Zealand... Park has brought the grace and lyrical qualities of a master storyteller to his writing.'

Geoff Park's research focused on New Zealand's coastal plains, country of rich opportunity for both Maori and European inhabitants, but country whose natural character has vanished from the experience of New Zealanders today. Beginning with James Cook's Endeavour party on the Hauraki Plains, and then the New Zealand Company's arrival in the valley that became the Hutt, Park takes us through the river flatlands where the imperatives of colonial settlement transformed the original forests and swamps with ruthless efficiency.

Ngā Uruora's primary journey is to four auspicious places - Tauwhare on the Mokau River, Papaitonga in Horowhenua, Whanganui Inlet and Punakaiki on the South Island's West Coast - where small remnants of the plains forests' indigenous ecosystems of kahikatea and harakeke still survive. The histories of these places, what they mean to Maori, their ecological vulnerability and their significance for conservation are major concerns.

George Seddon in the Australian journal Meanjin wrote that 'Nga Uruora is about loss: its 384 pages ache with the sense of it... The narrative sets out to evoke the richness and beauty of what has been lost... and the banality, poverty and insecurity of the landscapes that have replaced it.'

The book included numerous black and white photographs and illustrations. Colour photographs were by Craig Potton.

Theatre Country Essays on Landscape and Whenua (2006), was published by Victoria University Press.

Geoff Park passed away in March 2009.