A Most Excellent Thing: The introduction of brown trout (Salmo trutta) to Canterbury, New Zealand 1864-1872
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameBachelor of Arts (Hons)
This essay examines the process undergone in the Canterbury province in the late 1860s and early 1870s to import Salmo trutta (brown trout) ova from Tasmania, to hatch them out and to distribute them throughout the waterways of the province. This essay seeks to answer two questions. First, how were trout introduced? Second, why was their introduction of such significance to colonists at the time? To answer these questions this essay draws upon a comprehensive range of primary sources including Society records and newspapers. The successful importation of trout represented one of the key early achievements of the fledgling Canterbury Acclimatisation Society at a time when several other attempted introductions were failing. The process undertaken to import the ova, rear hatchlings and distribute the �young trout� tested the scientific knowledge of the 1860s and 1870s. It necessitated significant interaction with international acclimatisation groups primarily in Australia but also further afield. This essay also attempts to convey the significance of the importation to Canterbury. Such was the public interest that the coverage of trout in print media extended to the hatching of individual ova or the sighting of escaped trout. Trout were afforded a romanticised status in colonial New Zealand society, largely as a result of their construction as a quintessentially British object. Their importation was motivated by several factors, namely the re-creation of a British ecology in New Zealand, the recreational opportunities they afforded and the food source they provided.