Welcome to Southern Lands and Seas

This site explores aspects of the unique fauna, flora and landforms of New Zealand, and how humans have studied, used and misused these things over time. Its approach is primarily a historical one, but occasionally it will also make brief excursions into the sciences and other disciplines that often inform both natural history (defined here very freely as the study of animals and plants, whether in their natural settings or outside them, e.g. in museums, collections, gardens etc.) and environmental history (i.e. humans’ relationship to and transformation of the natural world and its constituent parts).

In a spatial sense, Southern Lands and Seas focuses primarily on New Zealand and its immediate neighbourhood in the southwest Pacific, but from time to time it may digress to discuss aspects of natural and environmental history in the wider Pacific and beyond. Posts will include articles looking at examples of New Zealand’s iconic (and sometimes not-so-iconic) animal and plant life; profiles of the naturalists and scientists, both visiting and resident, who have studied New Zealand’s natural environment at various times; book reviews; and a range of other things too.

A special (but by no means exclusive) thematic emphasis of this site is what can loosely be termed the German scientific connection with New Zealand and the Pacific. This is perhaps most frequently exemplified by the many naturalists and scientists from German-speaking Europe who visited New Zealand and the wider Pacific area in the period prior to World War I, but occasionally it is also represented by a small but significant number of New Zealanders who have embraced German-mediated ideas and employed them in promoting a better understanding of the local environment. This site is thus (among other things) both an exploration and an acknowledgement of the important contribution that German-speaking scientists and naturalists have made, directly and indirectly, to advancing scientific knowledge about this part of the world.


About me

I am currently an Honorary Research Fellow in the School of Cultures, Languages and Linguistics at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. My academic background is in German literature, but over the past twenty years my research and publications have been largely in the areas of science history, natural history, and the European exploration of the Pacific in the 18th and 19th centuries. I have a special research interest in the lives and work of Johann Reinhold Forster (1729-1798) and his son George (1754-1794), the official naturalists on James Cook’s second Pacific voyage.

For further information about my work and current research interests, please see my ORCID profile here.

Disclaimer: While this website draws from time to time on work I am doing (or have done) at the University of Auckland, the site itself is operated completely independently of the University, and any opinions expressed in it are my own.


Copyright & permissions

This website presents my own original research, based on a range of documentary and other sources. Unless stated otherwise, please regard all text and images posted on this site as the property (and therefore copyright) of myself as the author of that content.

You are very welcome to link to, cite, or quote from any of my posts, so long as: a/ you credit me clearly and fully as author when sharing or reproducing any of my content; b/ you obtain my consent before quoting large amounts of text or using any of my own images; and c/ you do not use any of my material for commercial purposes.

In particular, please do not copy any legally protected images that have been sourced from other people or institutions and are used here with their permission. In such cases, copyright will reside with the creator or holder of the images concerned, and permission for any further reproduction of those images will have to be obtained separately from them.

If you have any questions about re-use of material appearing on this site, including appropriate citation or reference style, please contact me first. I can be reached via the form on the Contact page or, alternatively, at the following email address: southernlandsandseas [at] gmail.com

James Braund


Header image: Forest in the Papakura District near Auckland (from: Ferdinand von Hochstetter, Neu-Seeland, Stuttgart 1863).

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