Under the Mountain - how a volcanic peak has influenced the culture, ecology and landscape history of Taranaki, New Zealand
Davies, Renee; Lambert, R. E.
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Citation:Davies, R. B., & Lambert, R. E. (2015, September). Under the Mountain - how a volcanic peak has influenced the culture, ecology and landscape history of Taranaki, New Zealand. International Federation of Landscape Architects Asia Pacific Congress (Ed.), Lombok, Indonesia (pp.107 - 117).
Permanent link to Research Bank record:https://hdl.handle.net/10652/3811
Mount Taranaki/Egmont occupies a central place in the history and culture of Taranaki people – Maori and European. The mystical qualities of the volcanic mountain have influenced the culture, ecology and landscape history of the area and illustrate that cultural landscapes are often predominantly associative (having powerful spiritual, artistic or cultural associations with a natural element) and broad-reaching in their manifestation within a diversity of cultures. Our human need for a sense of identity and belonging is strongly linked to landscape and place. As Taylor notes  ‗Landscape therefore is not simply what we see, but a way of seeing: we see it with our eye but interpret it with our mind and ascribe values to landscape for intangible – spiritual – reasons‘. The mountain itself and the circular ring of protected forest surrounding the mountain– which forms the Egmont National park is a strong example of an associative cultural landscape that embodies both tangible and intangible values. The circle of fertile ring-plain contains and protects the original forest of the mountain which was one of the earliest of New Zealand‘s ecological reserves to be protected and surveyed off from settlement. This circle frames the wilderness of indigenous native forest within the taming grid of a farming culture. The heritage of New Zealand surveying, settlement and forest destruction is poignantly captured in this physical landscape feature and its mystery and symbolism is illustrated in the spiritual beliefs, artistic history and economic products of the inhabitants that live under it. To the indigenous people of Taranaki - Maori, the mountain (Te Maunga) has deeply cultural and spiritual signficance. To Mana Whenua (those with geneological and local tribal authority over the land) the mountain is part of the landscape and an ancestor, it is a reference point and the names and physical features have particular significance as symbols of the people that provide meaning, order and stability. European settlers arrived in the region in 1841 and profound cultural and landscape change resulted. Throughout this time, the mountain appears in imagery and marketing for the area and the conical peak with an idyllic farming scene in the foreground has featured as a regional and national icon represented in art, advertising and symbolism. This paper explores the Maori and European connections to Mount Taranaki as a case study of an associative cultural landscape that has shaped the social and landscape history of an entire region and that continues to influence the future of this special volcanic landscape.