The Ecological Touchstones of Our Identity : Confronting Native Landscapes with the Cultural and Ecological Identity of New Zealand's Society
‘Ecological Touchstones of Our Identity’ explores the ways in which the language of New Zealand’s landscapes have been transformed by colonisation as New Zealand undergoes transition into a post-colonial era. This thesis identifies how three uniquely native New Zealand landscapes, the Beach, the Swamp and the Bush, have become lost to New Zealanders, both physically and conceptually, through the gradual transitions of time and contested histories. Although these landscapes are perceived within New Zealand’s culture as uniquely native to New Zealand, their true nature is somehow lost on many. Such unique landscapes coalesce into one very important landscape - the transect of the lowland forest - which has been all but lost from the fabric of our landscapes. This thesis uses a methodological approach wherein a range of dualities are explored in opposition to each other. The concept of biculturalism between Māori and Pākehā; the orientation between the vertical and horizontal, the gaze versus the object; wetland and bushland versus pastureland; and, most importantly, the perceived duality of nature versus culture. This latter point will be challenged through the theory and design concepts presented in this thesis. The final design outcome deals with the practicalities of generating a strong knowledge base of eco-sourcing and regeneration of national importance by creating a functioning seedbank between the two sites selected: the Museum of New Zealand -Te Papa Tongarewa and Lake Waiwiri (Lake Papaitonga). The vision is to regenerate the lowland forest transect between Lake Waiwiri and the coastal edge back into the functioning ecosystem once present, while structuring this regeneration to act as a cultural tool for strengthening New Zealand's sense of ecological cultural awareness, and thereby, identity. The role that landscape architecture and architecture play within this system of regeneration is critically explored through form and conceptual process, cumulating to a scheme which presents the educational opportunity of integrating these two different sites into one functioning ecosystem of regeneration.