Going Bush: New Zealanders and Nature in the Twentieth Century

Kirstie Ross


‘Every New Zealander can relate to this book: from gardening to tramping, rural education to a drive through the countryside, Ross examines how our country’s landscape has become part of our national identity.’ – NZ Memories


What does ‘the bush’ mean to Pākehā New Zealanders? Is it a particular type of vegetation, a place to tramp, something to save or a refuge from civilisation? Going Bush: New Zealanders and Nature in the Twentieth Century is an energetic exploration of these ideas – a cultural reconnaissance of the great outdoors.

It blazes a trail through nature, past school gardeners and prize-winning carrots; trampers, ‘blinkin’ tourists’ and deer cullers; memorial plantings and national parks; caravanners and Young Farmers’ Club members; litterbugs and vandals. By exploring the meanings that Pākehā found in nature from the 1890s to the 1970s, Kirstie Ross shows that the bush was as much about conservative values as about conservation.

Going Bush presents a fascinating account of New Zealand culture and society in the twentieth century that is powerfully relevant to debates over our relationship with the natural world today.



Kirstie Ross has degrees in music and history. After completing graduate studies at The University of Auckland in 1998 she carried out research for Waitangi Tribunal claims. She now works as a history curator at Te Papa Tongarewa where she was involved in the exhibitions Whangai Whenua Ahi Ka: Blood Earth Fire and The Scots in New Zealand.

January 2008, 205 x 210 mm, 200 pages, illustrations
Paperback, ISBN 9781869404246, $39.99