by Carol Sawyer

This is primarily a very USEFUL book. When I started reading it, within a short space of time I realized it is a perfect information and “ammo providing” book for the intelligent teenager who is opposed to 1080 poison, (usually because he or she has enlightened parents to start with), but finds the reasons for that opposition difficult to articulate at times.

I have noticed, time and again, posts from parents opposed to 1080 poison complaining that their children are being inDOCtrinated, and also that if they write an opposing view to the government-led mantra (“1080 poison is the best tool in the toolbox”) their marks can suffer – not always, but often enough to be a worry, even a deterrent.

Hopefully, of course, the book will end up in all school libraries, and with luck will inform many.

I don’t mean to say this book is only for teenagers. It is not, and I have gleaned much new information from it for myself as well. However, the authors, Jim Hilton and Roger Childs, have teaching backgrounds.

Jim Hilton (BSc Hons Zoology) is a NZ trained former High School science and biology teacher, and government research scientist.

Roger Childs (BA Hons Geography, Dip Ed, Dip Tch) is a former Head of Social Sciences at Kapiti College and The Correspondence School. Among other things he has authored and co-authored several Social Studies, Geography, and History textbooks.

The book has a concise, almost bullet-point, style that makes it a marvellous reference book, but there is nothing stuffy about it. It is very readable. It is also prolifically illustrated, has a helpful glossary, and an excellent “further reading” list.

The book explains how New Zealand broke away from Gondwana, how the country’s biodiversity unfolded, and then describes the huge changes brought about by the waves of settlers — firstly Polynesian and then European. Then it covers the introduction of new wildlife and plants, the misunderstood role of browsers, the value of possums, the predator-free movement, the disaster that is mass poisoning, the importance of predators, and the lessons to be learnt from all of this for the future.

If I had a teenager right now this would be NUMBER ONE on my list of Christmas presents. They are not going to get this information in the classroom.


New Zealand’s Changing Biodiversity: Nature Under Pressure — 95 pages in 27 x 18 cm format, illustrated throughout, softcover. Available from Tross Publishing, for $25, which includes postage.
The book is also available locally at Paper Plus and Whitcoulls for $25.