T. H. Potts and the origins of conservation in New Zealand (1850-1890)
In nineteenth century New Zealand, the process of colonisation included destruction of the native environment and so conflicted with conservation. By about 1870 a few men were urging that the native flora and fauna were worth conserving both for scientific research and for sustained exploitation and use. This foreshadowed, and to some degree precipitated, a more complex rationale for conservation after 1890, which brought in aesthetic, spiritual and ecological arguments. The most consistent and convincing spokesman during the formative years was T H Potts (1824-1888). By reference to Potts' activities in New Zealand, from the time of his arrival in 1854, I present a picture of colonial endeavour which often clashed with the requirements of native bird and plant life. By summarising legislation and other activity for conservation prior to 1890, I demonstrate how the response to this conflict developed new forms of thought and action from earlier concepts of animal protection and resource reservation. I describe Potts' contribution to this activity in particular. I then examine the influences at wok on Potts and consider some of the areas in which he was involved, scientific research and acclimatisation among them. I conclude that interest in science and natural history, plus his particular social and religious milieu, combined with the events of Potts' life to create the belief in conservation which he so ardently expressed. Finally, I would maintain that his early concern for the New Zealand environment gives to Potts' life and thought an appeal and significance which is lasting.
Advisor: Stenhouse, John
Degree Name: Master of Arts
Degree Discipline: History
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Potts, T. H. (Thomas Henry), 1824-1888; Conservationists New Zealand Biography; Naturalists New Zealand Biography; Conservation of natural resources New Zealand History; Plant conservation New Zealand History; Ornithologists New Zealand Biography
Research Type: Thesis