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Wednesday, 16 March 2016

NZ Harper Pass & Eating Native Birds:

Harper Pass was used as the main route from Canterbury to the West Coast over the Southern Alps ( - up the Hurunui River and over the top) - until the 'discovery' of Arthurs Pass in 1866.
1866 Sketch of Harper Pass aka 'Hurunui Saddle'.

The Harper Pass is named after well connected Leonard Harper (1832-1915), (Member of Parliament and Lawyer) who was the son of Bishop Henry Harper.

- What we don't talk about is the 200,000 pounds that were embezzled in 1891 by our lawyer-friend Lennie - bankrupting his law firm - and his subsequent departure back to the old country!
Taramakau River on descent of Western Side of Harper Pass

A son of Lennie - Arthur Paul Harper (1865-1955)(another lawyer) who was equally well connected and educated at the right Christchurch school - went on to be the assistant to Charlie Douglas (Explorer) in 1893 and did much mapping and pioneering work in the Alpine country, later giving radio talks about the mountains and wildlife.
APH at Craigs Creek 1894

- I heard excerpts from one such old talk from the Radio NZ archives the other day, where APH talked about cooking and living on native birds caught by their dogs - and that they would have to tie-up the dogs to stop them bringing too many bush hens - Weka - in the early days - but then later when stoats spread through the bush (after 1890s) there was no bush tucker left for their cook pots.

They Are All Over.
- The stoats were introduced to try control the rabbits - that were introduced to provide 'sport' for the land-owners .. nobody thought to try control the land-owners eh.

Hut at Harper Pass.

 Introduced animals are a mixed but mostly sad story here in NZ. We have feral animals listed as possums (30 million), rabbits, stoats, ferrets, goats, deer, rats, pigs, wasps (10,000 per hectare in beech forest), cats (1.4 Million at the average of 220 domestic cats per urban sq.kilometre),

There is a song "There was an old woman who swallowed a fly": - Last verse..

There was an old woman who swallowed a cow,
I don't know how she swallowed a cow!
She swallowed the cow to catch the goat,
She swallowed the goat to catch the dog,
She swallowed the dog to catch the cat,
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird,
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider,
That wriggled and jiggled and tickled inside her,
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly,
I don't know why she swallowed the fly,
Perhaps she'll die.

There was an old woman who swallowed a horse,
She's dead—of course!
I'm surprised that those early run holders didn't introduce hyenas to catch the stoats .. and then lions to catch the ...

- An old NZ book well worth reading is 'Mr Explorer Douglas' by John Pascoe.

Marty K.
Easter Bunnies Shoot Alexandra.