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New Zealand Landscape as Culture: Wai (Water)

Come and learn about the water systems and the ocean of New Zealand and their complex geological and cultural histories.

This course is archived
Estimated 4 weeks
3–5 hours per week
Instructor-paced
Instructor-led on a course schedule
Free
Optional upgrade available

About this course

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In this course, you will learn about New Zealand’s water, or 'wai', and the cultural identities attached to them. We'll explore the lives and identities of Indigenous Māori people who can trace their ancestry to their awa, or river, as well as the European, Pākehā perspectives on water. Discussing how the different cultures interpret and relate to water.

We will delve below the surface to look at the unique geology that has created our watery nation, and the taonga (culturally prized possession) found within these waters. While also investigating the political, cultural and economic dynamics of our waterways.

New Zealand is a bicultural nation, and colonisation by the British in the nineteenth century produced a complex history and competing cultural ideas about landscape. The place of water in European culture led to conflicting beliefs about the ownership and status of water. This has implications today for the management of water resources, and how this can be done to ensure that cultural, economic and environmental imperatives are respected in Aotearoa New Zealand.

You will hear about the Māori world view from Dr Maria Bargh (Te Arawa and Ngāti Awa), who teaches Māori culture and politics at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington. Professor Lydia Wevers will introduce you to Pākehā, or European, New Zealand culture. Featuring guest appearances from other experts, this course will encourage you to think about landscape as an expression of culture, and allow you to transfer these ideas to the landscape you live in.

At a glance

  • Language: English
  • Video Transcript: English

What you'll learn

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  • Indigenous knowledge and narratives about wai or water.
  • The geology and formation of rivers and lakes of New Zealand.
  • The role of European culture in the colonisation of water.
  • Ways in which water is represented in New Zealand art, literature, and national identity.

About the instructors

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