Home' Waiheke Weekender : Waiheke Weekender 14 June 2012 Contents Waiheke Weekender 5
14 June 2012
And she came to understand a lot of reali-
ties about high country life that would never
have occurred to her as a city dweller.
"I learnt a lot about things like land
management. For example there is a need for
pest programmes, especially for the 'exotic
intruders' like feral goats and possums.
Iris is a strong conservationist, and has
been on the Otago Conservation Board for
eight years, doing hands on research and
recording of the endangered peka peka bat in
"The number of owner/operators of high country farms has
reduced from 300 to less than 200 and of course, there is the issue
of overseas people 'buying in'," says Geraldine.
However despite the controversy around foreign ownership of
New Zealand land, she says Iris believes that if they appreciate
the land for what it is, their money can bring much-needed fund-
"There is a saying that 'it's hard to be green when you're in the
red' and these stations are very large."
Originally in the mid-1800s, the farming land in the area was
parceled out to farmers as a leasehold proposition by the govern-
ment of the day who were looking to grow the economy.
One quirky fact Geraldine didn't know before was the logic
behind the naming of sheep dogs.
"They give the dogs one-syllable names so they can recognise
their name when they're called but they must sound different so
the dogs can easily distinguish their name and commands from
the others. It all makes complete sense when it's explained, it's
just that as a town girl, I had never thought about it."
The book also covers the history of the area long known to
locals as The Head of the Lake, the focus
of William Rees' great sheep run, estab-
lished not long after he and Nicolas von
Tunzelman became two of the earliest
Europeans to travel into the area in an epic
feat of exploration in 1860.
After beavering away on the book for
"most of last year" on Waiheke, the launch
earlier this year in the South Island felt
like a real celebration. And of course, at
this stage no one knew it was headed for
the bestseller list.
"The launch was a truly high country sort of event held in a
woolshed. About 150 local people turned up and tea was served
in those large shearers' tea pots, with the traditional invitation for
'ladies to bring a plate'."
I wonder how the book was received by the people whose
lives it documented?
"I had already done a lot of historical and conservation fact
checking with the community beforehand so I knew it was accu-
rate in that respect; I think everyone liked it."
However I'm guessing that judging by the personality estab-
lished in the book, Iris herself wouldn't have been so comfortable
in the limelight.
"No, she didn't really like having her photo taken and being
so much the centre of attention. She would say 'I've done the
famous bit, I'll get back to work now."
High Country Woman: my life on Rees Valley Station by Iris
Scott and Geraldine O' Sullivan Beere can be ordered from the
Waiheke Book Festival website at www.waihekebookfestival.
co.nz and at Take Note bookshop in Oneroa. The book retails for
Author Geraldine O'Sullivan Beere suitably
dressed in high country attire at a recent launch of
the book on Waiheke.
"The launch was a truly high
country sort of event held in
a woolshed. About 150 local
people turned up and tea was
served in those large shearers'
tea pots, with the traditional
invitation for 'ladies to bring
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