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World landscape architect to tour NZ

World landscape architect to tour NZ

New Zealand needs to be environmentally healthy and self-reliant as possible in the face of a globalising economy, says a world expert in landscape architecture Robert Thayer.

Prof Thayer is visiting New Zealand this month on a foundation scholarship. He arrives in Auckland on Monday June 14 for a three week study, research and speaking tour.

``While environmental health and self-reliance might not seem at first to be connected with landscape architectural issues, it is a critical aspect of ‘landscape’ in the larger sense,’’ he says.

``I am particularly concerned with how ecological regions in various countries like New Zealand will cope with the coming ‘big rollover’ in energy supplies, when the world demand for fossil fuel outstrips supply.

``When this occurs (and I believe it is coming sooner than we once thought) there will be a necessary contraction in the scale of our landscapes; we won't be able to drive, fly, or ship items as far for the same dollar, and that will tend to make us reconsider the `local’ in a new light.’’

Prof Thayer, from northern California, is the New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architects’ first Education Foundation scholar. He will speak in nine New Zealand cities and towns between June 14 and July 9.

He is a world renowned landscape architect with particular expertise in and passion for ecology and cultural landscapes. He is emeritus professor of landscape architecture at the University of California, Davis.

Prof Thayer says he wants to visit any Maori land / sea resource management approach which might incorporate traditional values and methods.

``Indigenous people play a significant role in the approaches and methods I have described in my book, LifePlace. Landscape is a reflection of and a dimension of culture and cultural pluralism. I'm looking forward to experiencing New Zealand's many cultural landscapes.’’
``I'd be curious to see if New Zealanders are anywhere near as uptight as Americans are at expressing contemporary technologies in the landscape. There are actually US companies which make good money disguising cell phone towers as tacky pine trees! I'm hoping you Kiwis are far more enlightened than that.’’
He will speak in Auckland, Whangarei, Rotorua, Taupo, Hastings, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch and Dunedin. He will also visit publicly important landscape sites, such as Taranaki Wharf and Oriental Parade in Wellington which won the supreme trophies at the NZILA 2004 annual awards.

Copyright 2004 Word of Mouth Media NZ

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