Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Turning over old ground: investigating garden heritage in Aotearoa New Zealand

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posted on 2021-11-14, 08:42 authored by Goldsmith, Susette

Aotearoa New Zealand began considering the preservation of some of its colonial buildings in the early twentieth century. Along with the buildings, and mostly by default, came their associated curtilage. This thesis asserts that the focus of heritage in this country has been on its buildings and that the curtilage - and in particular its gardens - has languished as a result. As an examination of garden heritage the study first explores the causes and consequences of this oversight. Secondly, it investigates the role that curtilage gardens can play in heritage and, finally, it considers how and why changes to heritage practice and management would better realise the potential of these gardens.  Little academic research has been carried out on garden heritage in this country and this study has therefore built on a multidisciplinary theoretical framework in order to fill this gap in the literature. The qualitative research undertaken includes a case study of Hurworth Cottage in Taranaki and has employed a mixed method approach that includes archival and documentary research and interviews.  In exploring the first research question, the study found that while some early attempts were made to protect garden heritage they were largely unsuccessful because they relied on the energies of individuals, failed to be adequately resourced and, to some extent, were outstripped by enthusiastic efforts to protect trees. The thesis does, however, cite examples where heritage agencies have been prompted to address wider issues of curtilage within the contemporary conservation plans of historic buildings. The case study addressed the second area of inquiry and established that curtilage gardens can act as powerful interpretive tools and, consequently, that no heritage building is best served by being considered in isolation. In examining contemporary heritage practice and management, the thesis broadens its focus to discuss overseas models of interpretive curtilage gardens and their relationships with their communities.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Museum and Heritage Studies

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Arts

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

970116 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Art History, Classics and Religious Studies


McCarthy, Conal; McLean, Gavin