Leaving a Trail - Revealing heritage in a rural landscape
‘Leaving a Trail – revealing heritage in a rural landscape’ investigates how landscape architecture can reveal heritage and connect Māori and Pākehā to the land and to the past in rural Aotearoa New Zealand. Our rural landscapes contain rich and varied stories, which, if interpreted and made stronger by being linked together, have the potential to create cultural and recreational assets as well as tourist drawcards. A starting point for this research based in South Wairarapa was the six sites identified by the Wairarapa Moana Management Team as sites for development. The first design ‘hunch’ remained the touchstone of the project. With the six Wairarapa Moana Wetlands Park sites forming an ‘inner necklace’ the aim of this project became creating an ‘outer necklace’ of revealed heritage sites, a heritage trail. This thesis was inspired by the depth of Māori connection to the land. Māori consider the natural world is able to ‘speak’ to humans. The method chosen for this design research is based on landscape architect Christophe Girot’s ‘Four Trace Concepts in Landscape Architecture’. Girot is interested in methods and techniques that expand landscape projects beyond the amelioration of sites towards the reactivation of the cultural dimensions of sites. As part of this research is to enable connection with the cultural dimensions of sites, or to ‘hear the site speak’, his method was chosen as a starting point. It was adapted and shaped by previous experience and the experience of this research to form a new method, ‘Four Listening Acts in Landscape Architecture’. Through such methods landscape architects can grow their relationship with the land and so better design with the land and for the landscape and its people. After research, the sites were chosen and grouped into four major routes, Māori, Pākehā settlement, natural system and military, so as to appeal to people with a variety of interests. Of the twenty six trail sites most are already marked and eleven are unmarked. Research into how to reveal these unmarked sites saw three different approaches used. Sites with spaces had their essence intensified to become places. Other sites had objects designed for them directly related to the landscape. The significance of the rest is shown with numbered markers. These three different methods of revealing a site’s significance are threaded together into a series, a necklace, creating a trail that contributes a cultural, recreational and tourist resource to South Wairarapa.