Monday, September 05, 2011

Volcanoes of Auckland: The Essential Guide

I am not a great reader of non-fiction. I read on average 2-3 novels a week but really, unless it is a cookbook of course, I don't read non-fiction unless it is a subject that I am seriously interested in.
One such subject is the volcanoes of Auckland so since this fascinating new title Volcanoes of Auckland arrived in my post office box last week I have read it from cover to cover and I can fairly claim that it is the riveting and definitive guide to Auckland’s extraordinary natural phenomena providing:

  • accessible introduction to the science of eruptions, volcanic cones, lava and ash
  • history of Maori and Pakeha use of the volcanoes
  • illustrated guide to each of Auckland’s 50 volcanoes
  • new aerial photography, maps and historic photographs
 Volcanoes of Auckland: The Essential Guide (Auckland University Press - $59.99)
From Rangitoto to One Tree Hill, Mt Victoria to Mangere Lagoon, the city of Auckland is defined by the volcanoes it is built upon. For tens of thousands of years, volcanoes have profoundly shaped the area’s geology and geography. And for hundreds of years, volcanoes have played a key part in the lives of Maori and Pakeha – as sites for pa, kumara gardens or twentieth-century military fortifications, as sources of stone and water, and now as parks and reserves for all to enjoy.

Volcanoes of Auckland is a prolifically and wonderfully illustrated account of these extraordinary natural phenomena – the essential guide for all of us whether locals or tourists, schoolchildren or scientists, as we climb up Mt Eden or North Head and look around, trying to understand the volcanoes that so shape life in our city. Every Auckland home should own a copy.

And I found of special interest the section headed The Next Eruption and was somewhat relieved to learn that there should be somewhere between two days to several weeks' warning between the time of initial detection and eruption on the surface.
Less consoling is this - "In explosive eruptions, all traces of suburbia will be destroyed in the area surrounding the large crater that is formed. These craters usually have a diameter of 500-1000 metres. Surrounding the cater, the build-up of volcanic ash to form a tuff ring will likely destroy and bury everything for a further kilometre or so beyond the crater edge".

About the authors:
Bruce Hayward is a geologist and marine ecologist based in Auckland. He is a former member of the Auckland Conservation Board and New Zealand Conservation Authority, and former president of the Geological Society of New Zealand. His wide interests in natural and human history have resulted in sixteen previous books on topics as diverse as archaeology, the kauri timber and gum industries, the history of Auckland cinemas, New Zealand fossils, volcanoes, building stones and conservation; and, as joint author, the popular A Field Guide to Auckland.
Graeme Murdoch is a historic heritage consultant, having previously worked as historian and then director of Heritage at the Auckland Regional Council, 1988–2006. Graeme has researched, lectured and written extensively on many aspects of Auckland’s human history for forty years and has a special interest in the region’s built heritage, Maori history, place names and traditions. He is co-author of A Field Guide to Auckland and author of Dreamers of the Day: A History of Auckland’s Regional Parks (2010).
Gordon Maitland is curator of the Pictorial Collection at Auckland War Memorial Museum with an extensive knowledge of image resources available in the museum’s collection and in other institutions. He has a particular interest is the early appearance and changing landscape of Auckland as documented by historic photographs, paintings and sketches.
Alastair Jamieson is an ecologist and photographer who has been documenting Auckland’s volcanoes for over twenty years. He is the director of the natural heritage consultancy Wild Earth Media (

 Photos above, from top to bottom:
North Head, Mt.Victoria, Auckland Domain, Mt.Roskill, Orakei Basin.

1 comment:

Claire at Latitude said...

We can imagine (or not) how a volcano in eruption might affect us, but one of the things I really like about this book is its focus on how humans have lived with these landforms and affected them.