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Wish you were here? Building on Aotearoa's sacred land in the age of colonisation and overtourism.

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posted on 19.09.2021, 22:53 by Carpenter, Benjamin

In 1887 Te Heuheu Tūkino IV Horonuku, paramount chief of Ngāti Tūwharetoa gave the peaks of Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu as a tuku (gift with reciprocal obligations) to the Crown. From this tuku, a joint management of the worlds fourth national park was imagined but did not eventuate. The Tongariro National Park has been run by the Crown with little Māori voice for over a hundred years.

Today over 142,000 people complete the Tongariro Alpine Crossing (TAC) each year. This number of people, many with uninformed notions of what is acceptable behaviour, affect the environment and the mauri (spiritual essence) of the maunga (mountain). The arrival of Covid-19 closed Aotearoa’s borders to tourists. The sudden decrease in numbers prompted calls to rethink our nation’s approach to tourism and how we value our wild spaces.

Overtourism and colonisation are significant issues for Tongariro National Park. This thesis asks how architecture on the TAC can reduce the negative impacts of colonisation and overtourism, and provide a platform on which wider progress can begin.

This thesis draws on literature, site observations and expert stakeholders using a ‘research-through-design’ methodology to create a series of architectural outcomes within the park. A theoretical framework was developed concurrently to ensure that the overarching goals of decolonisation and mitigation of overtourism were achieved as visitors complete the TAC.

Through this thesis, six architectural interventions were created; some new, and some replacing existing infrastructure. I explore how each intervention responded to the effects of overtourism and colonisation, both as a singular intervention and as part of a larger scheme.


Advisor 1

Kiddle, Rebecca

Advisor 2

Southcombe, Mark

Copyright Date


Date of Award



Victoria University of Wellington - Te Herenga Waka

Rights License


Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Victoria University of Wellington - Te Herenga Waka

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Architecture (Professional)

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

Wellington School of Architecture