Uprising: Walking the Southern Alps of New Zealand

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Uprising is about walking as a form of knowing. Armed with Ngāi Tahu’s traditional oral maps and modern satellite atlas, I crossed the Southern Alps more than a dozen times, trying to understand how our forebears saw the land. What did it mean to define your identity by sacred mountains, or actually see them as ancestors, turned to stone?

Description

Raised in the shadow of New Zealand’s Southern Alps, Nic Low grew up on mountain stories from his family’s European side. Years later, a vision of the Alps in a bank of storm clouds sparked a decade-long obsession with comprehending how his Māori ancestors knew that same terrain.

Kā Tiritiri-o-te-moana, the Alps, form the backbone of the Ngāi Tahu tribe’s territory: five hundred kilometres of mountains and glaciers, rivers and forests. Far from being virgin wilderness, the area was named and owned long before Europeans arrived and the struggle for control of the land began.

Low talked with tribal leaders, dived into the archives and an astonishing family memoir, and took what he learned for a walk. Part gripping adventure story, part meditation on history and place, Uprising recounts his alpine expeditions to unlock the stories living in the land.

Uprising is an invitation to travel one of the world’s most spectacular landscapes in the company of Māori explorers, raiding parties, and gods.