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Abstract of Hugh Dale WILSON, 2010

 Item — Box: 3
Identifier: H00040002


Hugh Dale WILSON. Interviewer: Lee Wadds 04 July 2010. Abstracter: Jean Hawkes

TRACK 1 (shown as Track 10)

00:00 Interviewer identification.

02:01 HUGH DALE WILSON born February 1945.

03:23 CANTERBURY family. Father born in QUEENSTOWN of Scottish parents. His mother (nana) to NEW ZEALAND aged about 16 to join other family members. Lived for about 91 years. Father Presbyterian Minister. Studied and married in ENGLAND. Mother Scottish Presbyterian born in ENGLAND. Six children – Two born in ENGLAND – ALISON and JIM. HUGH twin of sister HILARY who are the youngest.

05:05 HUGH born in TIMARU when father minister at Chalmers Presbyterian Church. When HILARY was 5 family moved to CHRISTCHURCH to Knox Presbyterian Church and lived at Papanui Road on the edge of St Albans.

05:42 Extended family is huge. Four of HUGH'S siblings had three children each. Has two great-grand nieces.

06:13 STEWART ISLAND PLANTS (book by HUGH) SAM SAMPSON (died in 2008) – Described. OLLIE LEASK, WAIRARAPA – Mentioned.

08:23 How HUGH came to write Field Guides – Explained. MOUNT COOK NATIONAL PARK – Mentioned. Parents outdoorsy people – father keen fly fisherman, mother loved outdoors. Many family camping holidays – Described. LAKE S... in FIORDLAND, LAKE … in CANTERBURY – Described. Fascinated by nature form very early age (8 or 9 years). Birds first of all. Planted native plants for birds – Described.

11:10 Home full of books. Father wrote several little books. Mother a mathematician. Influence of parents. Brother JIM into mountaineering early on. HUGH longed to be a mountaineer. Brother JOHN – Mentioned.

12:10 First visit to STEWART ISLAND. Stayed in BATES holiday home. Camping in FIORDLAND (EGLINTON VALLEY).

12:25 Reaction to STEWART ISLAND – Described. MASONS BAY – Mentioned.

13:00 Return trips on 'WAIRUA', amphibian plane – Mentioned.

14:04 First trip at age 13 on 'WAIRUA' – Described. MUTTON BIRD ISLANDS, HEREKOPARE – Mentioned. HUGH loved drawing.

15:00 End of Track 1

TRACK 2 (shown as Track 11)

00:06 Troubles at High School – Described.

00:28 Images of STEWART ISLAND on arrival – Described. BANKS PENINSULA lack of vegetation – Described. STEWART ISLAND – Mentioned. Reverend BATES (known as Uncle Jack and Aunty Jean). Holiday home on GOLDEN BAY ROAD – Described.

03:40 Night walk to PRICE'S (?) PEAK – Described.

04:29 Freedom given by parents to the children – Described. ARTHUR'S PASS, LEWIS PASS, PORTERS PASS – Mentioned. Brother JIM already a mountaineer. PORT HILLS, MOUNT HERBERT – Mentioned. Companions came from other schools (not the HUGH attended). 'KAIPUIA' (?)

06:52 No real influence from primary or secondary school teachers. Followed interest in plants, birds and landscapes. Last high school report – Described. ST ANDREWS' school uniform rules – Described.

08:50 Father chaplain at ST ANDREWS. Enabled sons to attend.

09:20 Reasonably happy at primary school. Hated Military Cadets at high school. DEREK HANSEN (author) childhood in TIMARU – Mentioned.

10:42 Mother taught at St MARGARET'S COLLEGE (private school). Reason WILSON children attended private schools – Explained. St ALBANS – Mentioned. Mother's role in the home – Explained. Happy family memories.

11:58 Keen on gymnastics at school. Lived for tramping and climbing – saving grace. Planning for trips – Described.

12:58 Mother keen on music. Piano lessons – Described. Took piano up later. Comparison between music and mathematics – Mentioned. ROSS (known as 'Barrel') Maths Teacher – Mentioned.

14:25 Since becoming a 'scientist' sees mathematics in a different way.

15:00 End of Track 2

TRACK 3 (shown as Track 12)

00:04 Taken to concerts by mother. Sat through them.

00:18 Further education – Described. VOLUNTEER SERVICE ABROAD in SARAWAK. Interest in all things MAORI. Enrolled at university to do English, Arts and Science together – Explained.

02:08 Effects of university life – Described. Flatted because parents had moved to NORTH CANTERBURY. Political situation. All Blacks and Springboks Tours. VIETNAM WAR. Compulsory Military Training. Interview by enlisting panel – Discussed.

04:57 Interest in Botany, Zoology, Geology. Completed Arts Degree first with science subject included each year. Did a Science Degree. CANTERBURY UNIVERSITY – transfer of faculties. OTAGO UNIVERSITY Botany Department – Mentioned. 'WAHINE' (ship) disaster caused by storm [April 1968] – Discussed. TANGIWAI rail disaster [December 1953] – Mentioned.

08:35 Content of Botany Course – Described. Taxonomy [classification system]. CASS field station – Mentioned. JO [Josephine] WARD lecturer – Described.

10:13 Maori and other ethnic groups at university. Reaction to racist attitudes – Explained.

12.02 Church conference in CHRISTCHURCH. Congregation billeting people. Father's anger at phone call regarding woman who would not accept four Maori billets. Rehoused with WILSONS. HUGH learned his first Maori words.

13:10 Discussion regarding protests for rights of South Africans while there were injustices in AUSTRALIA and NEW ZEALAND.

13:55 Numbers of Maori students at university – Discussed. Raising school leaving age may have helped Maori.

15:00 End of Track 3

TRACK 4 (shown as Track 13)

00:01 Introduction of Polytechnics and attitudes of many Secondary School Teachers – Discussed. MASTERTON – Mentioned. Present Primary School Teachers' ways of assisting children with varying degrees of intelligence to achieve in later life.

02:22 Food – Discussed. Kai [food], Kei te pai [that is good] – Mentioned.

03:24 Interviews on TV and Radio – Discussed. Hugh's writing and research. Film – 'Earth Whisperers – Papatuanuku' [Earth Mother, the provider] – Discussed. AL GORE – Mentioned.

07:10 Further references to radio interviews. National Radio, Community Access Radio (?Canterbury Polytech) – Mentioned.

07:58 Bellbird, Grey Warbler, Silver Eye [also known as ring eye or wax eye] – Mentioned. STEWART ISLAND – Mentioned.

09:35 'Wild Plants of MOUNT COOK' (book) – Mentioned.

10:12 Lecture tour in AMERICA. NEW YORK and BROOKLYN Botanic Gardens.

11:25 Philosophy behind restoration of HINEWAI RESERVE – Discussed. BANKS PENINSULA – Mentioned. Possums, goats, fire, herbicides – Mentioned. Problems with rats, stoats, ferrets, wild cats – Explained. Visitor experience – Explained. Planting plans on 'HINEWAI'. Introduction of tui [birds]. Community involvement. DEEP BAY [Stewart Island] – Mentioned.

15:00 End of Track 4

TRACK 5 (shown as Track 14)

00:02 Trapping rats on STEWART ISLAND – Discussed. Community Trapping Programme set up by Government [2003] – Discussed. Kakariki [Maori word for green. New Zealand parakeet] Wood pigeons [Kereru – Maori name] Possums re-entering National Park – Mentioned.

03:02 Involvement in National and Community Access Radio interviews.

04:37 'World Premier' of film (Earth Whisperers) at Hollywood Movie Theatre in SUMNER. Film described.

05:03 Editing of present DVD interview – Described. OTANERITO HOMESTEAD – Mentioned.

06:15 End of Track 5.

TRACK 6 (shown as Track 15)

00:57 Publication of first book 'The Year of the Hornbill: volunteer service in SARAWAK' Volunteer Service Abroad. [A H & A W] REED, Book publishers. Experience with editors – Described.

03:30 While at university started work at MOUNT COOK NATIONAL PARK as a summer job – Described. Botanical survey (scientific study) offered when a new graduate – Described. 'Scientific Account of Vegetation of Mount Cook National Park', later published as a Field Guides – 'Wild Plants of Mount Cook' also 'Vegetation of Mount Cook National Park'.

05:07 Study on STEWART ISLAND took five or six years (as did the MOUNT COOK study).

05:14 Conditions on MOUNT COOK – Explained. Rabbiter's hut – mentioned. DOC [Department of Conservation] was Lands and Survey Department.

06:01 Publications done by choice STEWART ISLAND – Mentioned. Some feelings towards publications relating to MOUNT COOK – Described. Setting up 'Field Guide Publications' – Explained. DAVID and RALPH – Mentioned. Progress of 'Field Guide Publications' – Described.

08:32 STEWART ISLAND situation to to MOUNT COOK but no problems. 'Stewart Island Plants' – Mentioned. Standard of publishing improved. RALPH and DAVID – Mentioned.

09:25 Reason for doing STEWART ISLAND study – Explained. Should it be a National Park? Forest Service, Lands and Survey attitudes toward extended survey. JOHN PUREY-CUST, RICHARD SUGGATE – Mentioned. KOIATA BOTANICAL TRUST set up by a group of botanists in 1988 – Explained. STEWART ISLAND, BANKS PENINSULA – Mentioned.

11:44 BANKS PENINSULA field survey offer accepted – Described. Use of assembled data by various groups – Described.

12:44 Study of STEWART ISLAND by LEONARD COCKAYNE – Described. Opportunities for HUGH – Described. TONY DRUIS (?) – Mentioned.

13:58 Financial survival – Described. Sandalwood chest, gift from missionary aunty, from MALAYSIA – Mentioned. KOIATA BOTANICAL TRUST saved Hugh.

15:00 End of Track 6

TRACK 7 (shown as Track 16)

00:01 Talent. Not 'one of the boys'. Land of BANKS PENINSULA – Mentioned. MAURICE WHITE (CHRISTCHURCH accountant) purchased land for 'HINEWAI RESERVE'. KIM HILL (National Radio) – Mentioned. Botanical Community – Mentioned.

01:43 Feelings about accepting BANKS PENINSULA and MOUNT COOK, STEWART ISLAND projects – Explained. If needed would have made suggestions to KOIATA TRUST for further projects.

02:32 Publications – Report on Protected Natural Areas Programme on Banks Peninsula – published as 'Banks Ecological Region'. One on Hinewai as 'Hinewai Nature Reserve' based on newsletters and others. SHOAL BAY PRESS (publishers) – Mentioned. 'Natural History of Banks Peninsula' (book) Books on STEWART ISLAND, MOUNT COOK and BANKS PENINSULA – Compared.

06:13 Would like to do a third edition, as an update, of STEWART ISLAND publication. Use of knowledge gained by others since HUGH'S survey was done.

07:12 Sequence of putting a book together – Explained. Survey – sketches in notebook – some photography – plant content – write text for plants – work through drawings. MOUNT COOK, BANKS PENINSULA – Mentioned. PETER GOOMES – Mentioned. Whereabouts of original sketches – Explained. REED publishers taken over by HEINEMANN (Hugh not sure if this is correct) LEE WADDS (interviewer) – Mentioned. 'Field Guide Publications' handed over to 'Manuka Press' owned by RICHARD BROADHEAD of CROMWELL.

15:00 End of Track 7

TRACK 8 (shown as Track 17)

00:06 Page of drawings referred to as a 'plate'. Book being referred to has 816 species, 492 pages with about half being text. Approximately 250 plates of drawings Preparation of drawings – Described. Drawing and piano – restful and challenging. Some drawings used for tapestry and other embroideries.

03:52 STEWART ISLAND quite different from other places where HUGH had worked. [RAYLENE mentioned often – is this RAYLENE WADDELL of GOLDEN BAY ROAD?] Abilities of botanists. Public request to identify specimens – Explained. Specimen of exotic grass – Described.

06:00 MOUNT COOK 'Ice Cream' plants – Explained. Found buttercup on TIN RANGE, STEWART ISLAND related to one on SUBANTARCTIC ISLANDS and one on SOUTHERN ALPS. [Named 'Tin Range Buttercup' (Ranunculus stylosis)]

07:34 Students at the feet of 'The Professor'. PATRICIA [HEWLETT ] and PAUL [NEWPORT ], [Assistant managers at OTANERITO HOMESTEAD] Employment of young people for the summer – Explained. SUMNER – Mentioned.

09:02 Coastal chapter of book on BANKS PENINSULA. Drawings – Discussed. Use of black-and-white and colour plates. Possible problems for printers. Book launch – Mentioned. Hinewai book (done from newsletters) – launched in courtyard of a bookshop (POT POURRI, AKAROA).

11:36 Beech on STEWART ISLAND will have been planted there. Reasons – Discussed. Beech on BANKS PENINSULA in a very limited area.

13:39 Singular thing about STEWART ISLAND flora and fauna – Only one of NEW ZEALAND'S three main islands with vegetation patterns pretty much in tact. Interesting because of infertile soils, climate, underlying geology.

14:40 STEWART ISLANDS visitors generally come for bird life. Probably widely known among botanists.

15:00 End of Track 8

TRACK 9 (shown as Track 18)

00:03 Wild life and vegetation intricately inter meshed.

00:21 Habitat and food sources retaining birds in a particular area – Discussed. HINEWAI, MAURICE WHITE – Mentioned. The original concept for 'HINEWAI' – Explained.

02:03 HUGH'S understanding of what food sources attract individual birds through New Zealand. Re-introduction of tui onto BANKS PENINSULA – Described. STEWART ISLAND – Mentioned. Data sets with LAND CARE (RESEARCH LIMITED) – Mentioned MAUDE ISLAND in MARLBOROUGH SOUNDS – Mentioned.

05:48 Bellbirds on STEWART ISLAND reason for deep coloured legs and beaks – Explained. FUCHSIA on STEWART ISLAND threatened – Discussed. LORD'S RIVER – Mentioned. Death of trees on STEWART ISLAND. Effects of possums on rata, kamahi and fuchsia. 'Staggering disease' in possums – Mentioned.

11:32 Further reference to colour of bellbirds also kaka. Kakariki returning to DEEP BAY. Kaka from KARORI in WELLINGTON – Mentioned.

14:48 Reactions of overseas visitors and city dwellers of New Zealand to what is being done in DEEP BAY, STEWART ISLAND.

15:00 End of Track 9

TRACK 10 (shown as Track 19)

00:12 Influences on young children – Described.

00:57 HUGH'S obligations to HINEWAI with regards botanical research and book – Explained.

02:15 Common Field Guide to Grasses, Grass-like Plants (sedges, rushes etc) not written yet. Possible project for Hugh.

03:14 Conservation depicted on television – Discussed. Global warming effects – Discussed.

05:55 Personal fulfillment of Hugh and others – Discussed. Loop from NORTH ARM to PORT WILLIAM – mentioned.

08:35 End of Track 10


  • 2010

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From the Record Group: 1 folder(s)

Language of Materials



  • From the Record Group: Wadds, Lee (Interviewer, Person)

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Part of the Southland Oral History Project Repository