The Country Life of Maungawhau imitates the field guides and provincial chronicles that dictated the aesthetic frameworks for understanding the landscape in Europe, and which were carried to Aotearoa, and later used as the model for large-scale national landscaping projects. The inevitable urban spread to areas such as Maungawhau lead to a pining for ‘the natural’ on the part of many settlers, with ‘the natural’ being a transplanted European pastoral forged over indigenous land. The question of purpose and use-value arises at the stage that reserves are demarcated in the style of colonial parks to remain effectively aesthetic, useless.
The land has its own rich history and ontological ‘nature’ that stands in opposition to the settler-colonial perception of landscape. This land invariably exists between worlds. The Country Life of Maungawhau is a field guide that treats Maungawhau as a palimpsest, or a site of negotiated meaning, violent histories, and unfinished business. It imitates the colonising pastoral chronicle in order to destabilise that which is taken for granted, telling the story of colonial entropy and arguing that the site will forever be a work in progress.