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New Zealand Landscape as Culture: Maunga (Mountains)

Victoria University of Wellington via edX


In this course, you will learn about New Zealand’s mountains, or 'Maunga', and the cultural identities attached to them. We'll explore the lives of indigenous Māori people who trace their ancestry to their mountain, as well as the European, Pākeha people who identify with mountain culture.

New Zealand was formed on the line where the Pacific Plate dives under the Australian Plate. We will investigate the unique and volatile geology that has created our mountain chain and our large geothermal fields. This geology helped spawn Māori origin narratives as well as European cultural stereotypes such as the 'Southern Man'. Māori refer to their home landscape as 'whenua'. We will take you across the whenua of these islands.

New Zealand is a bicultural nation. Colonisation by the British in the nineteenth century produced a complex history and competing cultural ideas about landscape. The place of mountains in European culture led to conflicting beliefs about the ownership and status of mountains.

You will hear about the Māori world view from Dr Maria Bargh (Te Arawa and Ngāti Awa), who teaches Māori culture and politics at Victoria University. Professor Lydia Wevers will introduce you to Pākehā, or European, New Zealand culture. Combined with guest appearances from other experts, the course content will encourage you to think about landscape as an expression of culture and allow you to transfer these expressions to the landscape of your own home.

Taught by

Lydia Wevers and Maria Bargh


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