Author(s): Philip Simpson
Abel Tasman National Park was a war-time baby, born in 1942 to protect the wonderful sequence of forested beaches and headlands, and which have become much-loved by both countless New Zealanders and visitors alike. Down the Bay is a tribute to this gem of New Zealand's national park system. Philip Simpson, an award-winning author of a number of books on New Zealand trees, presents a complete picture of the distinctive landforms of Abel Tasman, from the deep caves of the uplands to the distinctive granite headlands and golden-sand beaches, the diversity of plants and animals, the coastal environment, and overlays this with accounts of both Maori and European history. As well the book records how Project Janszoon, a trust funded by a remarkable philanthropic gift, is working with the Department of Conservation to transform the park by removing pests and reintroducing threatened birds to restore the area to its former state. This is an inspiring and hopeful story of how the future of an important area of New Zealand is being secured for future generations. Down the Bay will be the first comprehensive and authoritative account of Abel Tasman National Park to ever be published, a book that will beautifully capture what is an unforgettable visitor experience.
Although just a year since publishing his last book (Totara), the author has actually researched this book for more than five years. New Zealand’s smallest national park, Abel Tasman, may invite nonchalance (so small), but it also contains some of our most challenging terrain and diverse flora and fauna.
In twelve well informed and pictorial chapters the story of the park’s beginning through to Project Janszoon is here recounted in clear and concise prose. We learn for instance, that Perrine and Malcolm Moncrieff first leased, then purchased 203 hectares of what was a bush covered slope leading down to a beach. This was near Marahau, in the southern part of the park. Later, Perrine focused her conservation campaign near Totaranui, further north. Perrine herself was a piece of work. One of her arguments for establishing the park was that such an area would be a haven for war-weary returned soldiers in which to recreate – sort of like scented gardens for the blind. Whatever else you might think of Perrine, you have to admire her tenacity. Since its inception, the park has been added to continually, the latest addition coming in 2016 when thousands of donating New Zealanders raised funds enough to ‘Buy a Beach’. Like the park itself, a small but significant victory. Similarly, this book is an account that everyone can enjoy.Mike
Longlisted for the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards - Illustrated Non Fiction 2019