In June 2018 Dr Philip Simpson, author, botanist and Project Janszoon director, pressed send on a 300-page manuscript for Down the Bay – a natural and cultural history of the Abel Tasman National Park.
As it winged its way through cyberspace to publishers Potton and Burton, Philip had time to reflect on the last four years. Four years wandering the paths of the Abel Tasman, talking to the personalities, pondering the geography, marvelling at the species, and enjoying the sounds of the sea, streams and birds.
The idea of a book germinated as a “misty thought” six years ago at the first meeting of the Project Janszoon Trust board. At the time Philip was working on a book about the mighty Totara so the idea was shelved until 2014 when he began researching Down the Bay in earnest.
“I have had the honour, privilege and benefit of doing this work, of learning about the land and life of this park. I have worked with the project staff, as well as the people in DOC, plus many members of the community involved in one way or another with the park,” says Philip.
The name Down the Bay, is a hat-tip to the park’s passionate advocate, Pérrine Moncrieff. Like many Nelson locals, she headed “down the bay” regularly on holiday with her family.
Philip says writing a book happens in four stages, first creating the idea and then the wonderful experience of research and discovery. Then comes the writing and the fact checking, before the last step – sending the draft to the publishers.
“The fourth stage is one of great relief but it can also be a painful process as you relinquish control of your “baby” to the publisher who must tidy up all the loose ends, and decide on the final look and feel of the book,” says Philip.
Founding Project Janszoon director Devon McLean says the book will be a fantastic read. “As Philip makes clear, this is a people’s park. He interprets and explains the names of many of the places, revealing the collective identity we all share. This book will enhance your experience of the park and infuse in you the pleasure of knowing that the unique character of the place and its life are being looked after,” says Devon.
The book will be available in bookstores in December 2018.