Academic and Professional Background
Pre-Landscape Architect Neil eclectically carried out historical research on Godley Head, Quail Island and Orton Bradley Farm Park; did landscape construction work in Arthurs Pass, and built part of the St James Walkway. On graduation as a Landscape Architect (Post LA) he started his practise life in the New Zealand Forest Service and then went on to become the Conservancy Landscape Architect for the Department of Conservation’s West Cost Conservancy. During this time he worked all over the West Coast, and among other things led the design of a series of sites in Southern South Westland, most notably the Haast Visitor Centre.
Once the Haast Visitor Centre was complete, he left DoC to be began teaching at Lincoln. Where he focuses on the areas of design, culture and the interaction between people and their environments. A key facet of this is the considerable and ongoing work he has done with Māori communities throughout both motu, linking students with sites, issues and the opportunities of Māori design settings, and providing communities with landscape architectural solutions. His not too secret goal is to use this to help find the landscape of Aotearoa and displace New Zealand with this older conceptual moniker.
From 2001 to 2007 Neil was Programme Leader for Lincoln’s Singapore based BLA programme and in 2008 he was appointed Head of the School of Landscape Architecture, a position he held until early 2012. Neil is a standing committee member on the New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architects (NZILA) Canterbury Westland Branch Committee, and was Branch Chairman from 2010 to 2012 when he led the Branch into many of its earthquake recovery activities. He is currently NZILA representative on the International Federation of Landscape Architect’s Asia Pacific Region Education Committee, of which he is co-chair. In 2006 he was awarded Lincoln University’s award for Excellence in Teaching, and in 2013 he was recipient of the Ngati Moki Prize (pictured below) for Maori leadership.
Current Research and Publications / Selected Publications
Neil's research interests include landscape and culture, Māori landscape architecture, landscape use and design education. Since the Canterbury earthquakes he has also been writing around the temporary and nomadic landscapes that have been built as part of the Christchurch community’s earthquake response.
- Challenger N. (2013), The Landscape is Temporary, in, Landscape Architecture New Zealand, AGM Publishing, Auckland, winter 2013
- Challenger N., (2011), ‘Lost and Found – Cultural Landscape as Design Imperative’, paper presented at the IFLA ARP Conference, Shanghai
- Challenger N. & Bowring J., (2012). “Landscape Graphics’, in, Presenting Landscape, a visual collection of landscape architectural drawings, Routledge, London.
- Challenger N., Bruin C., Gilchrist E., Lough J., Pyne L., Royal P., Tavares S.G., (2011) ‘One sixty Gloucester Street’. 48 hour design challenge - team SoLA, Presentation at the Share an Idea International Speaker Series, Christchurch City Council.
- Challenger N P., (2009), Urban indigenaity, building culture in a foreign landscape; Landscape Research Symposium, Lincoln University
- Challenger N., (2008). Cultural Meaning and the shared landscape, paper presented at the 39th annual meeting of the Environmental Design Research Association - Linking Differences Defining Actions, Veracruz Mexico.
- Challenger N., (2008), The Culture of Genius Loci, paper presented at the Canadian Institute of Planners Conference, Winnipeg, Canada
- Challenger N., (2007), Floating the Stone – The Expression of Culture in the Designed Landscape, paper presented at the third international conference on Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Madras, India
- Challenger N. & Swaffield S., (2002), Landscape Education in New Zealand: mediating between the global the regional and the local, paper presented at the 2002 Eastern Regional IFLA Conference, Kuala Lumpur
- Diane Menzies D., & Challenger N., (2002), Place, people and prospect: responding to spirit, Paper Presented at the AILA Conference
[Images: Students at IFLA World Congress Student Charette led by Neil 2013, launching Raft build by second year students as part of FESTA in Neil’s LASC 216 studio 2013)