“Blue Duck Station – The land, the rivers and the people” by Nicola McCloy, published by Basteman Books, Price $69.99
Reviewed by Tony Orman.
The publisher’s blurb says of this book – “outstanding, amazing, fantastic and incredible and every other adjective that describes the WOW factor.” And it’s true!
Author Nicola McCloy’s relaxed, engaging writing with often lively, often amusing anecdotes, great photos and an excellent presentation by the publishers makes for a great book. The book delves back into early history, both Maori and early European pioneer times and then moves smoothly through the decades to today.
Blue Duck Station adjoins the Whanganui National Park where the Retaruke River joins the Whanganui River and was created by amalgamating several properties. Today the station combines traditional farming with tourism and conservation. Such is the enterprising nature of the Steele family that they’re constantly looking at new innovative ways of diversifying further.
Enhancing the narrative is the philosophy of owner Dan Steele and his family. I found much to agree with in Dan’s belief in managing wild game populations (e.g. deer) and the family’s ideals about progress. “You can have a good economy and a good ecology,” he writes.
Hunting is part of the station’s operation. Some visitors arrive at Bel Duck Station unconvinced about the need for hunting. Dan sees it an opportunity to explain that managed hunting is conservation.
“Being a hunter is not about killing animals. We love the animals, but we know it’s our job to control them when they get out of balance.”
Deer are a reasonably recent arrival on Blue Duck Station. There’s red and fallow deer and Dan believes there are sika there too.
“We’re shooting sika hybrids and the neighbours up the road have been shooting sambar deer last year.”
The land’s rich history and the resilient and determined people in the pioneer days and 20th centuries have paved the way for Dan Steele and his family to make their mark. Farming, adventure and environmental initiatives go hand in hand.
But judge for yourself. Get a copy. It’s a book to treasure.