Students explore conflicting stories of landscapes

08 May 2023 | News

A recent field tour to Tairāwhiti gave 13 landscape architecture students a valuable chance to develop new perspectives as they explored a range of narratives embedded in landscapes.

The annual field tour, which took place in the first week of the mid-semester break, aimed to investigate the process of story-making and show that competing narratives can exist in the same location.

According to School of Landscape Architecture Senior Lecturer Don Royds, the group visited a variety of sites, from the reflective to the breathtaking, all with their own unique histories.

When discussing the landscapes' conflicting narratives, it was important that students asked themselves the question, ‘who gets to have their stories told?’

Dr Royds said one of the most significant places the group visited was the river Tūranganui, "where Māori first settled (heipipi) after landing in 1350 on the Horouta waka, and also where Captain Cook and his men first landed and met Maori during those tragic days in 1769 (Puhi-Kai-Iti)".

The tour included the sheep and crop farm, Nicks Head Station – which encompasses Te Kuri a Pāoa/Young Nicks Head – where Farm Manager Kim Dodgshun shared the visionary design approach that had been used to restore and celebrate ecological narratives while maintaining connections with the community, especially local hapū.

The group also headed to Dame Salmond’s 1769 garden, Waikereru Ecosanctuary, with curator Malcolm Rutherford explaining how the narratives from earlier examples of Māori gardening techniques were utilised to structure the area.

The event concluded with a visit to Whāngārā, a significant location in the whakapapa for Kāi Tahu.

“The main highlight of the trip would have to be the Reef Ecology Tour, where students met the tamariki of Tangaroa – whai or stingrays.” Dr Royds said.

Students relished the opportunity to visit a range of sites, learn from experts in the field and deepen their appreciation of landscapes and the stories they hold.

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