Dusky Sound’s new serenade

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By GUY WILLIAMS

Queenstown writer Peta Carey describes her new book, Tamatea Dusky, as a ‘‘love letter’’ to Dusky Sound.

The freelance feature writer and documentary director and producer feels ‘‘enormously lucky’’ to have spent much of the past two years observing and even getting her hands dirty working on some of the conservation projects happening in Fiordland’s largest fiord.

The result, her third book, tells the story of conservation and history in Dusky Sound, for which Tamatea is the Maori name.

The idea came while writing her first, 2017’s A Place for the Heart,
about the life and work of her late husband, Dave Comer.

She and her publisher were looking through some of Comer’s photographs of Dusky when she remarked how wonderful it would be to write about it.

She was promptly given the job.

‘‘The book’s been a gift, and in many ways, mainly because my late husband had such a vested interest — he loved the place — I think it’s a love letter to Dusky.’’

Carey says Dusky has 250 years of fascinating stories.

Best known as the place where Captain James Cook and the crew of the Resolution spent six weeks charting and exploring in 1773, it’s also where nature conservation began in New Zealand, more than 120 years ago, with the work of the world’s first conservation ranger, Richard Henry.

That story continues through the world’s first major rat and ferret eradication projects, and continues today with efforts to protect and re-establish populations of birds such as kakapo, kiwi and saddleback.

As well as being ‘‘stunningly beautiful’’, Dusky Sound has an aura about it, she says.

‘‘It’s a very dodgy term to go near, because it’s so loaded, but there’s almost a spirituality about the place.

‘‘You really do feel the history there, and perhaps it’s because there’re no roads through those historic sites, and it looks very much as it was when Captain Cook came through 250 years ago.’’

Tamatea Dusky, published by Potton & Burton, is being released today.

guy.williams@scene.co.nz