The traditional image of New Zealand is one of verdant landscapes with sheep grazing on lush green pastures. Yet this landscape is almost entirely an artificial creation. As Britain became increasingly reliant on its overseas territories for supplies of food and raw material, so all over the Empire indigenous plants were replaced with English grasses to provide the worked up products of pasture - meat, butter, cheese, wool, and hides. In New Zealand this process was carried to an extreme, with forest cleared and swamps drained. How, why and with what consequences did the transformation of New Zealand into these empires of grass occur? 'Seeds of Empire' provides both an exciting appraisal of New Zealand's environmental history and a long overdue exploration of the significance of grass in the processes of sowing empire.
Tom Brooking is Professor of History at the University of Otago, New Zealand. He is co-editor (with Eric Pawson) of Environmental Histories of New Zealand (2002) and is a member of the Council of the Agricultural History Society. Eric Pawson is Professor of Geography at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. He chaired the Advisory Committee for the New Zeland Historical Atlas. In 2007 he received the Distinguished New Zealand Geographer Medal.