Riccarton and the Deans Family: History and Heritage
The story of Riccarton Bush and its association with the Deans family encapsulates the natural and social history of Canterbury. This story began several thousand years ago with an ancient floodplain forest, followed by its long use by Maori. The arrival of the Deans brothers in 1843 to establish the first successful farm on the Canterbury plains near this forest and the following efforts of early-widowed Jane Deans ensured the Deans family had a role in the history of the settlement of Canterbury. The family's gift of Riccarton Bush to the people of Canterbury 100 years ago started a new chapter: the forest's recovery and the restoration of both historic houses. When the 2010-11 Canterbury earthquakes badly damaged Riccarton House, this special place returned to prominence with the Riccarton Bush Trust's heroic efforts to secure the house's future.
Christchurch writer Joanna Orwin has a background in plant ecology and 30 years' experience as an editor in environmental sciences. She now works as a consultant researcher, writer and editor on interpretation projects that encompass environmental sciences and Maori or European history. Her lifelong interests in New Zealand's landscapes and history are reflected in award-winning books that range from social and environmental history to historical and adventure novels for children and young adults. She has been short-listed many times in the New Zealand Children's Book Awards, twice winning her category. Both her previous non-fiction titles for adults won New Zealand awards in History.