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NZ rural heritage landscape disappearing

April 14, 2005

NZ rural heritage landscape disappearing – says landscape architect conference speaker

New Zealand is beginning to lose its small villages because of urban sprawl, the New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architects will hear at their heritage conference at Otago University in Dunedin from April 28 to 30.

One of the guest speakers, Lincoln University’s Dr Shelley Herzog, said New Zealand’s rural heritage is disappearing.

``All over New Zealand accelerated residential development is replacing farming landscape. New Zealand’s farming landscapes embody tremendous visual physical qualities as well as heritage and community values,’’ she said.

Ordinary farm land that embraces important heritage values to New Zealand society were not being protected, the Lincoln University senior lecturer said.

One example was Prebbleton on the southern outskirts of Christchurch.

Between 2000-2003 the built area of the residential units of Prebbleton, a small rural village on the outskirts of Christchurch, has increased fivefold, turning a once typical New Zealand rural village into an ``everywhere landscape suburban neighbourhood’’.

Dr Ezog will explain at the conference what allowed the accelerated development that Prebbleton experienced. She will portray what impact it has had on the community.

The conference is being kicked off by noted historian Dame Anne Salmond, chairwoman of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust. She is giving a public lecture on the evening of April 28.

The first keynote speaker is South Dunedin MP David Benson-Pope who is talking about making changes in the Resource Management Act, especially relating to historic heritage matters.

An Auckland expert, John Adam, will look at the findings of two study of the history of open spaces in Auckland.

Bridgit Diprose, an Auckland landscape architect, will tell the conference about a risk for people who live in cities that they may become disconnected from the natural environment and the communities within which they live.

``It is both urgent and important that our cities and town centres are accepted as valid heritage landscapes.

Roland Foster will talk about the debate on the future of baches on public land.

He will raise the issue of the controversy surrounding the baches at Taylor's Mistake on the coastal outskirts of Christchurch as a case study.

``We argue that the environmental perspective on heritage offers the best way forward for protecting the natural environment of Taylor’s Mistake.

``This also allows bachholders the opportunity to maintain their private holiday homes on public land,’’ said Foster, who is currently working towards a doctorate in landscape architecture at Lincoln University.

The loss of open dry landscape in Central Otago and the fight to save native coastal forest and wetlands near the Mahia peninsula in north eastern Hawke’s Bay are other topics for discussion.

One speaker Joan Ropiha will talk about the coast along Hawke’s Bay and the East Coast actively undergoing ``ecological collapse due to stock grazing and farm drainage. We have 10 to15 years to save it’’.

The Elms historic Church Mission Station in Tauranga, areas of Taiaroa Head and Curio Bay, Akaroa, Christchurch Botanic Gardens and Victoria and Myers Parks in Auckland also come under the spotlight.

The conference is being held in the historic precinct of at New Zealand’s oldest university.

ENDS

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