[NZ Geographic 116 (2012)]
I had an interesting phone conversation a couple of months ago with journalist Kennedy Warne, who was working on an article about the implications of further strip-mining of coal on the West Coast of the South Island. He'd just come across my Leicester Kyle website, and was fascinated - above all - by Leicester's lyrical sequence of protest poems The Great Buller Coal Plateaux (2001).
I'm happy to see that he's included a number of citations from Leicester in the article which has just appeared in the latest issue of New Zealand Geographic, which he was kind enough to send me a copy of (nor is it true that the hirsute creature in the picture above is intended as any kind of satirical reflection on Leicester's own magnificent set of silver whiskers ...). Here's one example, from the beginning of "The Black and the Green":
... Thin, cold, acidic soils and scant nutrients stunt growth. On the Denniston Plateau, life adopts a low profile.
You might expect such a place to have a pinched austerity about it — sour, waterlogged, battered by the elements, a po-faced bog. Yet the land surges with beauty. I walk across it and discover what the late poet Leicester Kyle, from Millerton, just north of here, called an "untrod field of singing flowers". Sprays of pink, insect-devouring sundews mingle with swards of tufting mosses. Each sprigleaf hair is tipped with a single droplet of dew. Crouching at ground level, I gaze across a field of sparkling globes. ...
I thoroughly recommend reading Kennedy Warne's article as a whole. I have to say that it horrified me to discover just how little of the pakihi land Leicester and others were struggling to save a decade ago is left now. The Millerton Plateau is, it seems, pretty much a done deal. The struggle now is to learn from that lesson, and try to avoid the same ecological devastation on the Denniston plateau, a bit further south.