Robert Peden’s Making Sheep Country recognised as an outstanding piece of writing

09 May 2013

Making Sheep Country: Mt Peel Station and the Transformation of the Tussock Lands, by Canterbury historian Robert Peden, has been announced as the joint winner of the ARANZ Ian Wards Prize 2012.

The Ian Wards Prize recognises an outstanding piece of writing published in New Zealand which draws richly on archival and primary source research materials. It is awarded annually by the Archives and Records Association of New Zealand and is named in honour of Ian Wards, former Chief Historian, Department of Internal Affairs.

The joint winner was Charlotte Macdonald’s Strong, Beautiful and Modern: National Fitness in Britain, New Zealand, Australia and Canada, 1935–1960.

In Making Sheep Country, Robert Peden explores the transformation of the South Island by focusing on one case study in particular, John Barton Acland and Mt Peel Station in South Canterbury, to explain how the pastoralists modified their environment. Taking us inside the world of the farmers – the sheep they bred, the rabbits and droughts and floods they fought, the fires they lit, the grass they grew, the risks they took – Peden offers a sweeping portrait of the economic and ecological transformation of New Zealand.

Uniquely placed to write this book, Robert Peden spent 25 years shepherding and managing sheep stations in the South Island before completing an award-winning PhD thesis at the University of Otago in 2007. He is now an independent historian.