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Assessing the Māori cultural landscape

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Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities, ,

Published Year Read Publication

In this paper prepared by Te Tau a Nuku (Māori Landscape Architecture members of Ngā Aho) for NZILA, Menzies examines the nature and issues surrounding Māori cultural landscapes.

The author discusses the challenges faced by landscape architects in New Zealand, particularly in the context of providing expert evidence in the Environment Court. The court has expressed a need for consistency in the evidence presented by landscape experts, who currently use various assessment approaches, leading to lengthy and complex evidence submissions. Judges have noted a lack of consistency in metrics used for assessments, as well as the use of evaluatory terms not defined in the Resource Management Act (RMA), such as “small,” “medium,” and “large.” The article also highlights the need for a clear definition of “landscape” and the importance of explaining why a feature or view is considered significant. Despite efforts to address these challenges, such as producing a “best practice” guideline, the court has not fully embraced these initiatives. The article also discusses the context of landscape assessment within the RMA, emphasising the importance of sections 5-8, definitions, and assessment of environmental effects. It notes the inclusion of Māori cultural landscapes and the need for a different assessment method for these landscapes. The article provides definitions of landscape and cultural landscape, highlighting the importance of incorporating Māori perspectives into the definitions. It also discusses key aspects of Māori cultural landscape assessment, such as stories associated with ancestors, whakapapa, and significant sites. The article concludes by emphasising the need for landscape architects to upskill and develop better tools for undertaking kaupapa Māori assessment. It also mentions the usefulness of Te Aranga Principles and next-generation place-based principles in this context.

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