Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Attune + Entangle; Reciprocity in Working Port Landscapes

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posted on 2024-06-24, 09:33 authored by Britney Polson

This landscape design-led research explores the potential of reciprocity, as an agent of design, within the coastal ecotone of working ports in the Marlborough Sounds. In Aotearoa, New Zealand, port landscapes present standardised and homogeneous spatial and material conditions solely to serve the functional needs of boats, storage and the infrastructure of human arrival and departure. This standardised process sees land reclaimed, seabeds dredged, contaminations leaked, and many species ‘life-worlds’ diminished. Many of these working port landscapes include a poor- quality and compromised human public realm that, together with privatised and exclusive areas, extract from and suppress coastal life forms and the everchanging dynamics of ecosystems. Ultimately, coastal ecotones are increasingly becoming environments of tension between climate change threats and poor socio-ecological and socio-spatial diversity. Yet, the lack of justice for human and more than human species is frequently overlooked. Located in Te Hoiere – Havelock, this research derives from personal experience with ports and marinas within the Marlborough Sounds. It is concerned with environmental justice and questions the landscape architect’s role in port design. In asking can landscape architecture generate equitable environments through multispecies reciprocity in a working port landscape, a novel design investigation founded by relationality is instigated. Motivated by encounter and a research practice grounded in ‘doing’, Attune and Entangle finds a range of ways, including investigative mapping and embodied experience, to materialise relational findings derived from a poetic approach. As critical spatial practice, the research creates a value-led opportunity to engage reciprocity as both aspiration and method resulting in layers of entanglement. Attune and Entangle contends with the limits of representation to conceptualise and test design responses, including the imagining of human-nonhuman publicness, that counter environmental and multispecies injustices. The research deepens understandings of how reciprocity might be used in landscape architecture towards mutualism, and contributes to justice orientated landscape architectural practices.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Landscape Architecture

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Landscape Architecture

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

4 Experimental research

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

Wellington School of Architecture


Hopewell, Hannah; Scott, Rosie; Alexander-Tu’inukuafe, Rameka