AMPS-25-1-1.pdf (30.62 MB)
Plants of place: justice through (re)planting Aotearoa New Zealand’s urban natural heritage
journal contributionposted on 2023-07-07, 00:11 authored by Maria RodgersMaria Rodgers, Fabian Neuhaus, Ocean MercierOcean Mercier, Rebecca Kiddle, Maibritt Pedersen Zari, Natalie Robertson
Climate change has led to urgent calls for environmental action and justice, which is likely to include increased urban vegetation. The benefits of this planting could go beyond ecological and climate benefits to contribute to decolonisation and environmental and spatial justice and build on the well-documented links between ecological and human wellbeing. In Aotearoa New Zealand, past and ongoing injustices resulting from colonisation have disconnected Māori (the Indigenous people) from their land. Māori see themselves reflected in the landscape and te taiao (the natural world). The process of colonisation has mostly erased natural heritage, intrinsic to Māori identity, from urban areas. Many plants in urban areas represent colonial identity rather than this natural heritage, and many of the native plants that have been planted originate from other parts of the country. Through reviewing the literature, this article argues for research that determines the benefits of urban planting design prioritising plants that naturally occurred in the past, termed here ‘plants of place’, in public places. In settler colonial countries, where it is an accepted practice to acknowledge built and predominantly colonial heritage, making pre-colonial natural heritage visible can have many co-benefits. It has the potential to contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation, decolonisation efforts, spatial justice and environmental justice. Celebrating natural heritage and planting ‘plants of place’ can contribute in some part to righting past injustices and preparing for a changing future.