Ben & Mark Boys of the High Country

A generation ago most people who weren’t from farms had friends or family who were.

That is no longer the case and to many city kids, rural New Zealand might as well be another country.

A newly released book, by Christine Fernyhough and John Bougen aims to change that.

Ben & Mark, Boys of the High Country, is the story of the real day to day lives of Ben and Mark Smith of Mount White Station in Canterbury.

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Damming the creek, catching tadpoles and cockabullies, mustering on foot and horse back, helping in the shearing shed or stock yards, and pig hunting are common place for nine year old Ben and eight year old Mark.

Christine’s words and John’s photos portray these and other aspects of high country life for city kids who’ve never been off a tar sealed road.

Christine chooses simple terms to describe Ben and Mark’s activities and the station which is their 40,000 hectare home –  she explains is nearly as big as 60,000 rugby fields put together.

John uses his knowledge of the people and places to good effect in capturing the day to day life and seasonal routines. While the book is about the boys, the photos also highlight the beauty of the land. The blurb on the cover says the photos are stunning, and they are.

Although the book is aimed at children  it will appeal to adults too, whether it’s read from cover to cover or left on the coffee table to be dipped in to.

Ben & Mark Boys of the High Country by Christine Fernyhough and John Bougen. Published by Random House. $36.99.

One Response to Ben & Mark Boys of the High Country

  1. gravedodger says:

    Looks like a truck load of nostalgia for those fortunate to have enjoyed the stable lifestyle intensive childhood I enjoyed with mountains as the backdrop and the total absence of electronic intrusion. Then I feel lucky indeed.
    BTW Country Calender had a very good coverage of the Smith family and how they balance education and entertainment with the isolation and station life.
    Your second para highlights a sad consequence of our society’s changing face with the dislocation of the connection between town and country. As children in a country family we had regular hours,days and sometimes weeks of visiting relatives and family friends bringing contact for the city children. This brought about an understanding of each others lifestyle and helped dispel the myths that can multiply and cause misunderstandings. Simple facts such as something has to die if you want meat, milk comes from cows, Dad might have to work the weekend,extras turn up unannounced and Mum has to cook more (30 miles to a bakery). We all learnt how to cope with an emergency with the self reliance that was an essential part of country life. When we went to town we likewise obtained a view of the different approach to lifestyle and options of our city couzins

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