For nearly 50 years Perrine Moncrieff was this country's foremost female conservationist. Born into an upper-class British family, she immigrated to New Zealand in 1921, settled in Nelson and bought land on the shores of Tasman Bay, which became a scenic reserve in the 1930s.
Premier Richard Seddon outlined his vision for 'God's own country' in 1903 as he steered the Scenery Preservation Act through Parliament. This act was an important landmark in preserving New Zealand's natural and historic heritage.
Politician Harry Ell was the strongest advocate of scenery preservation in the early 20th century. He raised the issue of legislative protection for the environment in Parliament more than 20 times between 1901 and 1903 alone.
Initially Maori had mixed feelings about the Scenery Preservation Act. The Member of Parliament for Northern Maori, Hone Heke Ngapua, welcomed it as a way to protect totara and prevent the loss of more kauri forest, but he objected to the way compensation was made available to Maori.