We spent a lot of time in summer in the backblocks
of Northern and Western Southland, where the days are long and the nights are short, floating on lilos or rubber tyres down the rivers and streams.
The Picture Show Man (John Power, 1977) is a leisurely, episodic and picaresque portrait of the long-forgotten days of the travelling film exhibitors who traversed the backblocks
of Australia in the 1920s and early 1930s.
European people living in the isolated Australian bush or New Zealand backblocks
, however, had always relied on their domestic health guide and, as Brookes indicated, this continued into the twentieth century.
Three riders (Hin, Jo, and the unnamed female character who tells the story) are heading for a store in the utter backblocks
of New Zealand; they are exhausted, their pack-horse is sick and they want to stop there for the night.
(30) Four cases of typhoid fever from one family were the subject of a New Zealand backblocks
hospital nurse's account in 1912.
. As exemplified in European travellers' writings,
Thomas wrote a booklet on first aid in the bush that was also recommended for use in the New Zealand backblocks
(Kai Tiaki 1911).
(9) The problems of living in a remote location are exemplified by Rachel Henning's description of her brother Biddulph's station homestead at Exmoor, inland from Port Denison, and the primitive conditions she and her sister Annie experienced there.' (10) The kind of itinerant horseback ministry conducted in the backblocks
of the colony by priests like H.
The book presents the poems in categories such as December Days, Santa, Beach and Backblocks
, Pets and Pests, Lazy Days, Sounds of Summer and Long Distant Blues, making it easy to access.
For example, historian Rollo Arnold (1994) tells of a communal approach to settlement in the 1880s, promoted by the Stout-Vogel government, in which groups of settlers from established communities formed "small farm associations" for the purposes of jointly settling new backblocks
. This approach to pioneering runs counter to the ruggedly individualistic model that is so often caricatured, and it surely helped shape social relations in both old and new settlements: In banding together, finding their block of land, and planning for their joint occupation of it, the group got to know and trust each other.
In 1909, Kai Tiaki refers to Maori and backblocks
nursing but reveals nothing to suggest that Maori nurses were seen as colleagues in the association.