Monday, October 26, 2015

Seasons of Erewhon

Seasons of Erewhon
Yvonne Martin and David Hallett

Published 2 November 2015; $65.00; Penguin Random House New Zealand

‘Rounding the last bend before the home straight to Erewhon’s headquarters, it is possible to see a draught-horse team ploughing a paddock. They are scenes that haven’t changed in more than 100 years.’

First there was Chrissie Fernyhough’s phenomenally popular Canterbury high-country station story, then it was south to Central Otago’s Bendigo Station. The story of the legendary Mesopotamia followed, and, last year we read about Glenmore Station in the Mackenzie Basin. Each a tale of pluck, inspiration and gritty determination, these handsome books have struck a chord with heartland Kiwis.

People have relished the chance to read the stories of our rich, pastoral heritage, to learn about the pioneering farming families who have laid the foundations for today’s critically important and ever-changing agricultural sector. These books also explore how incoming generations grapple with the harsh realities of continuing to make the high country viable and operating within an increasingly regulated and political environment.
Faced with quite a different world to their forebears, many traditional income streams are today under pressure. High-country farmers have to find ways to bring in new revenue, as well as dealing with major environmental and sustainability issues. It’s all part and parcel of modern and responsible farming practice but it puts additional pressures on the stations’ operations.

Nestled within the majestic Southern Alps, and neighbouring the equally historic Mesopotamia and Mount Potts stations, this legendary station is a 13,500-hectare property at the headwaters of the Rangitata River.
Seasons of Erewhon, Penguin Random House’s magnificent new high-country book, at once captures the spirit of history as well as the distinctive story of enterprise and isolation through the current lease holders: the laconic Colin Drummond and his effervescent partner Erin Cassie.

Writer Yvonne Martin has ‘saddled-up’ with former Press photographer David Hallett, and together they follow Colin, Erin and their crew as they work this harsh land throughout the seasons. Beautifully capturing the station’s wild, dramatic and ever-changing natural environment, the photographic spreads in this hardback book are breathtaking, and Martin’s evocative writing is a joy to read.

Together, Martin and Hallett present a vivid and captivating portrait of this truly special, awe-inspiring and seductive place, where over 140 years of station life has played out within the great amphitheatre of the majestic mountains. This is a stunning, timeless tribute to New Zealand’s beloved high country.

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