New Zealand Colonial Architecture

I love it! A cob cottage built sometime in the 1880’s or maybe earlier…


This is south-west of Gore, and I don’t know how old it is, but it’s great example of the cob cottage, built from stone and earth in a simple and timeless design.  I think it would have been warm, but not very light inside – and given the winters in Southland, those chimneys would have been well-used.

Don’t you wish the women of that time could have left us some more about their lives and dreams?  What would it have been like to leave everything to come out to New Zealand?  All the comforts of home left behind to start a new life in a brand new country?  And what a country!  Nothing like the safe haven of the UK, a much harsher place with none of the history of the Old World.  But wow – what a place to live!

Am I patriotic?  I think I am – I’ve never really waved a flag or been especially fervent about the flag or the national anthem, but I love the landscape.  I belong in this landscape, it’s something visceral to me.

The Maori have a tradition where, when they introduce themselves, they name the mountain, river and area of their birth.  I was born in Auckland, but I grew up in Gisborne.  I’ve chosen to live in Christchurch, and it’s the South Island that calls to my soul.  The hills around Gisborne are limestone and greywacke – they slip at the first sign of rain.  The mountains around the South Island tower with huge boulders that are buried in the hillsides and strewn across riverbeds and seascapes.

The river I grew up with is the Turanganui – it’s the shortest charted river in the world.  It’s the confluence of Taruheru and Waimata rivers, and flows out to Poverty Bay.  The rivers I live by now are the massive braided rivers of the Waimakariri and the Rakaia.  And of course the Avon.

And the mountains?  Hikurangi is the mountain I grew up with – first mountain to see the sun every day.  Now for me I love the Kaikoura mountains.  Wonderful to view, not so nice to climb!

And if you live in New Zealand, you’re never, ever far away from the sea.  Tangaroa, son of Rangi and Papa, (Sky and Earth).  Restless, mysterious, and never ever satisfied.  Wherever I live I hope I’m close to the sea, my real lover!