Thursday, 19 April 2012

High Country Woman

New Zealand's high country farmers are a special breed. They farm in tough terrain, at high altitudes, in areas where extreme climate puts both man and animal to the test.  Iris Scott was one of the first female graduates of Massey University's veterinary science degree, and went on to take over the 100-year-old Rees Valley station at the head of Lake Wakatipu with her husband Graeme. Together they established high conservation and land guardianship standards. When she was widowed, with three children, in 1992 Iris Scott had to call on all her farming skill and inner strength to carry on as the runholder of the 150-year-old, 18,000-hectare Rees Valley Station at the head of Lake Wakatipu, near Glenorchy. Not only that, she had to run the station on her own and keep up her veterinary practice. High Country Woman is the engaging story of Iris Scott's love of our high country and her determination to farm it successfully while upholding high conservation and land-guardianship values. The book also covers the fascinating history of the area long known to locals as The Head of the Lake, the focus of William Rees' great sheep run, established not long after he and Nicolas von Tunzelman became the first Europeans to travel into the area in an epic exploration feat .

Over the years and especially during my very active mountaineering days I met a number of high country farming families such as the Aspinals who farmed up the Matukituki, the Ivy's at Glentanner and a number of West Coast families who farm the South Westland valleys and take stock high in the summer.

This book holds special interest for me as my Great Grandfather James McKerrow the Explorer Surveyor was the first surveyor to map the Rees and Dart valleys between 1861-63 and knew Rees and Tunzelman.

I took this from the head of Lake Wakatipu on New Year's day 2012 looking to the Rees valley slightly left of centre.
For those who may be interested in the area the Rees and the Dart River can be seen at the head of Lake Wakatipu. This is a map of my grandfather's exploration and survey bewteen 1861-63.

So I am delighted that High Country Woman has now been publish as the engaging story of Iris Scott's love of our high country fills a gap in our high country farming literature.

No comments: