A small group perches on the stark ground surrounding the Mesopotamia Station homestead and farm buildings in 1871. The vegetation is tussock grassland, created by burning. Writer Samuel Butler held the lease between 1860 and 1864. He described the early burning of this landscape: ‘I have seen no greater sight than the fire upon a country which has never been burnt, and on which there is a large quantity of Irishman [matagouri]. The sun soon loses all brightness, and looks as though seen through a smoked glass. The volumes of smoke are something that must be seen to be appreciated. The flames roar, and the grass crackles, and every now and then a glorious lurid flare marks the ignition of an Irishman, his dry thorns blaze fiercely for a minute or so, and then the fire leaves him, charred and blackened forever.’
Samuel Butler, A first year in the Canterbury settlement. London: Longman Roberts Green, 1863, p. 60
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Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.