Katie Breckon

Taieri Wetlands

  • Incised Paint on Aluminium Sheet.
  • 120 x 96 cm
    (47.24 x 37.8 in)
  • Katie Breckon
  • Sold

At least 90 per cent of New Zealand's wetlands have been destroyed, lost mainly through drainage and clearance for agriculture. When wetlands are destroyed, we also lose natural food sources, wildlife and harvesting practices. This artwork maps a small section of the Taieri Plain, south of Dunedin, once a resource-rich wetland environment, now drained the area is a patchwork of freehold farmland.

The colonial mentality towards wetlands was to drain and transform the flat, fertile land for farming, and that is what my Scottish ancestors did when they settled in the Taieri Plain in the mid-1800s.

Growing up in Wellington, my Grandmother spoke about the family homestead in the Taieri. She told us our sixth great grandfather was nicknamed Swampy and was part of a movement of settlers who purchased swampland which they drained and developed into farmland. As an adult, I decided to go back to Dunedin to research the finer details of our families settlement and to understand better the effects of farming on the natural habitat and the Ngai Tahu people of the area. I discovered Taieri Kāi Tahu were not only left out of opportunities for economic growth and skill development, but the engineered systems put in place to control the Taieri River jeopardised Maori land and buildings during large floods.

  • Subject Matter: Landscape
  • Inventory Number: KB.2020.1
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