Susan Ballard

Jul 19 2023

Art, Energy, Politics

On Earth/Earth: An Exhibition of Landscape Paintings (1971)


Photo Credit

Barry Lett, Earth/Earth Auckland: Barry Lett Galleries, 1971. Photographed in the J. C. Beaglehole Room, Te Herenga Waka —Victoria University of Wellington. Reproduced with permission.

Susan Ballard
Jul 19 2023

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IT IS 1970. Murmurings are afoot. The New Zealand government has been in not-so-secret negotiations with Australian owned multinational Consolidated Zinc (Comalco Ltd). Their plan is to add three more generators to the newly opened Manapouri Power Station and raise the heights of Lake Manapouri and Lake Te Anau twenty-five metres to create a single “superlake” deep inside the Fiordland National Park. In 1960, the Government agreed to allow Consolidated Zinc exclusive rights for ninety-nine years to the waters of both lakes in order to power the Tiwai Point Aluminium Smelter—built to process the world’s largest deposit of bauxite (aluminium ore), recently discovered in North Queensland. Now it needs more power. The historians at Engineering New Zealand describe it as ‘New Zealand’s first significant attempt at an integrated electro-metallurgical industry.’

The smelter opened in 1969. Just one year later, the proposal for raising the lakes contains the promises of expansion, and vast amounts of money flowing back into the country through the alchemical process of smelting that transforms imported raw materials into “solid fuel” for export. In Fight for the Forests, Paul Bensemann records how engineer-in-chief Charles Turner made the argument that the lakes ‘will be better controlled by the Electricity Department than by nature.’ It is a moment upon which the country turns. In memorial halls, libraries, kitchens, and marae, campaigns are being planned, and information circulated.


Photo Credit

Roger Wilson, From Manapouri to Aramoana: The battle for New Zealand’s Environment Auckland: Earthworks Press, 1982

A PHOTOGRAPH OF a protest march organised by the Youth for Manapouri Action Committee on 25 November 1970 opens Roger Wilson’s book, From Manapouri to Aramoana. Underneath the photo Wilson asks, ‘Was this New Zealand’s first environmental demonstration?’ The march winding its way through the streets of Wellington was not the first, but part of a sustained and very public response to the sitting of the newly appointed Manapouri Select Committee—itself the result of a massive petition received by the government on 26 May 1970. Organised by Forest & Bird, and signed by 264,907 people, the petition called on the government to ‘Save Manapouri’ and reject the proposal to raise the lake levels.

As a particular iteration of post-sixties protest, Save Manapouri was the first environmental campaign to capture widespread Pākehā popular support. Conservation values fuelled by a 200 year tradition of landscape art were disquieted by the potential loss of a pure, untouched, pristine environment. Fiordland was known for its picturesque beauty and the sublime awe of its geological wonder. These aesthetic values had been cemented by some of the greats of nineteenth-century landscape painting: Nicholas Chevalier, William Matthew Hodgkins, Charles Barraud, John Gully, and Charles Blomfield. Alike in their differences, each artist captured Manapouri as a damp foreground echoed by a washed out wispy cloud-covered wilderness. Over 150 years, photographers had also contributed to the visual imagination, their work reducing the landscape to postcard scenes of a remote and inaccessible cathedral of the fairies. The fantasy of New Zealand as an unpopulated natural wilderness retained a rhetorical power that opened spaces for a battle befitting the “Hall of the Mountain King Where King Kilowatt is Paramount.” The environmental consciousness of New Zealand was torn between a world of fantasy and a world of energy.

1970 also marks a moment when the largely Pākehā environmental movement briefly intersects with ongoing and sustained land protests by iwi Māori. Keri Mills describes how at the turn of the decade, Māori and environmentalists found themselves fighting in parallel against the New Zealand political establishment—albeit bound in an uneasy tension. Retaining colonial models, environmentalists adhered to a conservation agenda, where the goal was to preserve what conservationist David Young describes as ‘the special elements of nature that belong to these islands.’ This was in conflict with practices of kaitiakitanga which had been marginalised by aggressive Crown actions against whenua and awa. Tangata whenua were advocating for sustainable protections of water quality and fisheries amongst a larger fight for self-determination. European models of aesthetics had set the scene for many of the government’s aggressive acts of land acquisition. Mills details how the Scenery Preservation Act of 1903, that remained in place until 1950, ‘allowed for the compulsory acquisition of land which the government considered scenic, much of which was in Māori ownership.’ Arielle Kauaeroa Monk details how in 1953, the Māori Affairs Act was used by prime minister Sidney Holland as, ‘a tool to legally appropriate “unproductive” Māori land.’ By 1975, several groups united under the banner of Te Rōpū o te Matakite (Those with Foresight), and after a 1000 kilometre hīkoi, arrived at Parliament on the 13 October declaring ‘Not one more Acre!’


Photo Credit

Mrs V G Lawson and Miss R Bellett, staff members of the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society, supporting the 1.5 metre high pile of cartons containing the "Save Manapouri" petition. Dominion Post (Newspaper): Photographic negatives and prints of the Evening Post and Dominion newspapers. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22305206 Reproduced with permission


IT IS 1971. On 19 April Earth/Earth: An Exhibition of Landscape Paintings opens at Barry Lett Galleries at 41 Victoria St West, in Auckland. It is a reasonably large show for the gallery, thirty-one artworks by five artists—Colin McCahon, Don Binney, Michael Smither, Michael Illingworth, and Toss Woollaston—who would each go on to hold foundational places in the mainstreams of New Zealand’s art history.

The Manapouri Select Committee is still meeting, no decision about the fate of the lakes has been released, but times are hopeful. In the introduction to the Earth/Earth catalogue, Barry Lett notes that the gallery wants to ‘add our voice to the chorus of protest over the many conservation issues facing this country. … We wanted an exhibition of landscape painting that paid homage to the land, and a catalogue of comments that decried its continued destruction.’

Barry Lett Galleries opened in 1965. The gallery had proven itself to be an important location for meeting, discussion, and experimentation. In addition to being a major contributor to the nascent art market, the gallery was a site where the histories of environmental concern and protest in Aotearoa inevitably crossed paths. In June 1969, Jim Allen had transformed the whole gallery with ‘Small Worlds: 5 Environmental Structures’, an immersive installation viewed under ultra-violet light that toyed with the notion of environment as shelter and introduced the possibilities of new materials in sculpture—space, air and light. Not long after, on 20 August 1969, the gallery hosted the Poets’ Co-operative, David Mitchell and Mark Young, along with James K. Baxter, for their BOMB reading focused on protest and the social awareness of politics. Things are happening here.

By 1971, the Save Manapouri campaign is in full strength. Rather than stage another immersive environment, Lett responds by working with painters. This is where our narrative could begin over. When tracing the history of art and environment in Aotearoa this is the exhibition that claims precedence. Although there is no extant visual record, Earth/Earth is repeatedly lauded as either the most important or the “first” environmental exhibition in Aotearoa. The month it opens, Hamish Keith reviews Earth/Earth for the Auckland Star:

The exhibition is dedicated to the cause of conservation. The catalogue is in itself something of a major document, articulately recording not only the attitudes of these five painters to the land, but those of Dr R.H. Locker and Professor Newhook, two scientists who share their concern.

Today, the catalogue is found in major repositories and archives. The copy held by the National Library belonged to Tony Fomison (white gloves only), the Beaglehole Room’s edition, gifted by Barry Lett, is a little shabby, and emblazoned with a hefty library stamp. The catalogue has a striking graphic logo but contains no images. There is a complete list of works arranged by artist, title, and size, but no dates. It is a document designed for sales, not the archives. The exhibition is widely cited in the extensive writing about the individual artists. Earth/Earth is described by Gregory O’Brien in 2017, as ‘one of the first public manifestations not only of ecologically driven art-making but also of an emerging Green movement in this country.’


Photo Credit

Barry Lett, Earth/Earth Auckland: Barry Lett Galleries, 1971. Photographed in the J. C. Beaglehole Room, Te Herenga Waka —Victoria University of Wellington. Reproduced with permission.

In addition to being a major contributor to the nascent art market, the gallery was a site where the histories of environmental concern and protest in Aotearoa inevitably crossed paths.

TO MANY, Earth/Earth remains a ground breaking, important, radical, and urgent exhibition at a critical time in the environmental imaginary of New Zealand. It marks a ‘green awakening.’ And yet, the paintings themselves are largely absent in our visual record. They have moved on, been retitled, deployed into private homes, or integrated into new series. Earth/Earth is an exhibition in which the artist’s words have lingered longer than their collective works. To write about Earth/Earth means reckoning with how exhibitions can be pulled into the service of other things. It means thinking carefully about how the narratives of art history in New Zealand repeatedly turn to the “first of”, or seek to reassert the significance of certain artists in the formation of an ever-narrowing mainstream. It means thinking about how to evaluate the archival impulse when in a small community every event and every action is rendered iconic.

The narratives around Earth/Earth cement these five artists at the centre of things. In the absence of visual records we are left with their words reproduced in the catalogue. The longest statement is by Don Binney. It opens:

The dreadful Hubris of Mankind is seen in his wilful assumption of title to live off the world, rather than live with it. Whilst the dynamic of change is inevitable in the Biological sphere, Man’s predatory relationship to the rest of the living earth has speeded up the process of change to such an extent that the endurance of all or any species of life can no longer be considered or guaranteed. Mordor has over-come Lothlorian.

The text is reproduced widely. A manifesto. In Binney’s obituary, Ron Brownson comments, ‘The text that he prepared on that occasion is one of the most important of his published statements. It repays a close reading as the original catalogue is rarely encountered.’ In the catalogue, Binney ends his text:

Total Ecological conscience may well be the survival creed for all of us in the very imminent 21st Century. I am confident that the capacity for man’s survival is as much writ within his capacity to survive upon a basis of tolerance with his meanest fellows as it is writ within his capacity to reach the Moon. Or do I hope too much?

It is a stark reminder of the moment, that the Moon landing was only 6 months earlier, and that phrases like Total Ecological conscience could be met with serious consideration. By 1989, Binney has dismissed the exhibition as hippy activism: ‘In 1971 Barry Lett Galleries held an Art Earth Environment group show with Woollaston, McCahon, Illingworth, Smithers and me—probably my last 1960s type experience.’

In the second volume of his biography of Colin McCahon, Peter Simpson calls Earth/Earth ‘A significant group show’ containing one of McCahon’s ‘most explicit expressions of environmental concern.’ McCahon had already created harrowing statements about nuclear destruction and painterly worlds where landscape, human activity, text, spirit, paint, and life meld. ‘Ahipara’ (1970) and six large watercolours all titled ‘Muriwai’ were included in Earth/Earth. In the catalogue McCahon writes:

I am not painting protest pictures. I am painting what is still there and what I can still see before the sky turns black with soot and the sea becomes a slowly heaving rubbish tip. I am painting what we have got now and will never get again. This in one shape or form has been the subject of my painting for a very long time.

Not surprisingly, McCahon’s is the most reproduced of all the Earth/Earth statements. He declares an ecological drive in which nature is under siege. It is a turning point. McCahon is about to embark on the series of works that would become his most widely known, collectively grouped under the title Necessary Protection. The language resonates, and yet by 1977 Wystan Curnow reads a weariness in McCahon’s words. Looking back, we would expect the works shown in Earth/Earth to hold this critical space, however the authoritative online database of McCahon paintings lists just two of the six watercolours. Even Tony Green notes a sense of disappointment in his obsessively detailed review of the Necessary Protection (1976-8) survey exhibition: ‘None of the watercolours of 1971 were in the show.’ Despite this absence, McCahon’s Earth/Earth essay is reprinted in the Necessary Protection catalogue.

The narratives around Earth/Earth cement these five artists at the centre of things. In the absence of visual records we are left with their words reproduced in the catalogue.

ILLINGWORTH HAD FIVE works in Earth/Earth, the titles for all have shifted and changed, the focus transferred to the land, repeated. Later, Aaron Lister will reflect on the artist’s ambivalence about the Save Manapouri campaign. In the catalogue, Illingworth’s text resonates with a grotesque essentialised and idealised primitivism. Illingworth adheres to a fantasy that Māori culture is innately primordial, and maintains a conviction that Pākehā need to enter this imagined world in order to return to nature. In the catalogue, Illingworth describes

… the parlous state of the New Zealand ecology. … The land is like a dead animal—we’ve humiliated our landscape—the flesh of the hand is rotting away and the bones are showing through … there are few New Zealanders who are in tune with the soil.

Illingworth’s gendered binary, a passive and reductive image of nature, is shared by Smither and Binney. Hamish Keith captures the tension in his review:

The Old Earth Mother, in much more than a figurative sense, lurks in the hills of Smither’s and Binney’s paintings, and quite unashamedly sprawls on the beach with her mate and lover ‘papa’ in Illingworth’s.

Smither’s catalogue text though is violent, perhaps more befitting a requiem than a protest. He begins with a boyhood tale of air rifles, axes, and stolen sexual liaisons, and ends with poorly disguised irony: ‘the sunsets with all this dust and smoke in the air are really something out of this world.’ It remains the only text not reproduced widely in the years after the exhibition.

Woollaston is predictable. These are four landscapes as landscape. His text feels like an outlier. He writes of a challenge to romance, to scenery, and the spoils of tourism. Remarking on the overall colourfulness of the exhibition, Keith notes that, ‘Even the generally sombre Woollaston seems to have found the odd gemstone outcrop under his usually earthy hills and sodden skies.’

In a move that anticipates later attempts to connect art and science, Lett invited Ron Lochlear, who he describes as an agricultural scientist ‘interested in conservation,’ and ‘more of an environmentalist’, Professor Frank Newhook, to write essays for the catalogue. Lochlear, is concerned with ‘well-kept pasture,’ and a thriving rural sector. In a direct challenge to the arguments for increased energy consumption at Manapouri, Lochlear sees farmers as a protectors of the environment observing that ‘the farmer who reduces his land to a bald green desert, ignores soil and water conservation, spoils his own environment and devalues his financial investment.’

Newhook was head of plant pathology in the Botany department at the University of Auckland. He describes his love of beauty alongside long battles for conservation. He muses about the kinds of specialist knowledge that can support ‘common sense.’ He writes about the creation of the Manaia Kauri forest sanctuary on the Coromandel. He argues that controversy is important as it brings attention to the urgent issues. He suggests the battle will be relentless.


IT IS 2023. The challenge of writing about an exhibition that is continually referenced in the annals of art history is that it appears there is nothing new to say. My notes drawn from the catalogue are not enough. Of the thirty-one works exhibited in Earth/Earth I have located fewer than ten. I begin to wonder if the lack of visible documentation of the exhibition protects the works from being read as illustrative. Although the works have moved on to new histories, the exhibition has taken a key place in the individual biographies of these artists, and Earth/Earth remains representative of a particular kind of Pākehā environmentalism that occupies our attention at the expense of other histories.

The Earth/Earth catalogue tells an incomplete story. The E.H. McCormick Library holds a copy, and in their Colin McCahon artist’s file is the invite with the same striking logo. I find nothing at the National Library apart from a wondrous ephemera collection of environmental posters. Although they hold extensive individual artist files, Te Papa’s exhibition file for Earth/Earth is currently missing. In the RKS Art Archives at the Hocken Library, there are slides of adjacent exhibitions, showing people at Barry Lett Galleries a few months later, but no visual documentation of Earth/Earth. We cannot know if these artworks influenced New Zealand’s environmental consciousness — because we can’t see them. It is the artist’s texts that remain. We must take their word for it.

Although it would be a mistake to read back into this exhibition a future no one could anticipate: land marches/ nuclear horror/ more smelters/ more dams/ a transformed climate, what we are left with is five painters present and accounted for as part of an environmental protest that galvanised national attention. They take up the bandwidth. The narrative of the exhibition’s importance serves to locate McCahon, Binney, Smither, Illingworth, and Woollaston at the centre of one of the greatest transformations of environmental consciousness in Aotearoa.


IT IS STILL 1971. Other things are happening. Auckland is alive with action. In August, a very different exhibition opens at Barry Lett Gallery: The Plasma Cast Iron Foam Company Presents Adrian Reginald Hall (PCIFCo). Concepts abound. Aesthetic boundaries shift. This exhibition points to another strand in our story, one about vanishing archives, one that suggests that the legacies of environment and art in Aotearoa were never going to be contained in a single exhibition of five painters. When reviewing this show, Hamish Keith writes: ‘few exhibitions have been as total in their impact as that of Adrian Hall.’

The PCIFCo catalogue is deceptively ephemeral. The cover is a pink fine-grained forgery-proof water-marked Hammermill Safety Paper printed with a monochromatic reproduction of Hall’s California driver’s licence. The catalogue maps the working identity of an artist buried within the paper wars of bureaucracy. Stacks of paper, balanced. A petition ready for submission. And while five painters keep painting, within this exhibition environment are ecologies and networks that expand the art object beyond representation. Hall’s environment does not speak loudly of pollution or Mother Nature, but instead holds a tidal space: a sea wall bringing the site of the gallery into conversation with a new environmental context. There are many works, one of them, Low Tide is forty-nine concrete foundation piles arranged in a seven by seven grid and painted with green resin up to their notches, one row seeps through a dividing wall. Survival as organism plus environment. Hall points to tensions around energy consumption, prodding the art community with its earnest well-meaning attempts at protest. On opening day, Hall notes that the resin reeks like ‘dank, gravity-stricken seaweed.’

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Photo Credit

Report of the Cabinet Committee on Lake Manapouri, Chairman: P. B. Allen. Wellington: Government Printer, 1970. Photograph of copy held on the shelves of Te Pātaka Kōrero Library, Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington.

The narrative of the exhibition’s importance serves to locate McCahon, Binney, Smither, Illingworth, and Woollaston at the centre of one of the greatest transformations of environmental consciousness in Aotearoa.


IT IS 1973. John Hanlon’s top-10 single, ‘Damn the Dam’, has just been released as a two-minute commercial for Pink Batts fibreglass home insulation. The advertisement is designed to pressure the government into insulating people’s homes rather than invest in more electricity generation. The song’s pick up by radio epitomises the groundswell of environmental aesthetics and sentiment that the Save Manapouri campaign has created. Forty years later, in an interview with Damian Skinner, Barry Lett describes Earth/Earth as a:

…gallery exercise about the idea of painters connecting to the land, as guardians of the land. … At the same time there were the reasonably new environmental concerns emerging in society generally. We just thought it was an opportune time to have a landscape show which was probably a good commercial idea besides as all the rest of the soulful concerns.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu records show that Waitaha explorer Rākaihautū first called Lake Manapouri, Roto-ua (the rainy lake). The name used today is Moturau, (multitude of islands). Manapouri is a corruption of Manawapore (the lake of the sorrowful heart). Like many of the stories surrounding the lake, this name moves beyond the descriptive. Reflecting on place names in Te Waipounamu, Tā Tipene O’Regan notes:

Other instances are just plain mistakes. Take Manapouri for instance. All the signs will tell you it was originally called Moturau. Manapouri refers to one bay and was transcribed incorrectly in a cartographer’s office in Wellington but after the Save Manapouri campaign in the 1970s it was almost impossible to change back.

In June 1971, the Select Committee had reported that they would not raise the level of the lake, but that the hydro-electric development would continue. Following a landslide victory in the 1972 general election, the new Labour government passed legislation protecting the lake levels. In 1973 they appointed seven Guardians with oversight of Lakes Manapouri and Te Anau. All had been prominent leaders of the Save Manapouri campaign. Today two members of the Guardians are nominated by Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu to represent iwi interests, and together they advise the Minister of Conservation on the broad environmental, ecological and social effects of the operation of the Manapōuri - Te Anau and Monowai hydroelectric power schemes.

The first time I wrote this essay it was about finding a way to think through the murky narratives of art and environmental protest in Aotearoa. I told people I was writing about the Save Aramoana campaign, and they told me to begin with Manapouri. I told people I was writing about Save Manapouri, and they asked me ‘why begin there?’ I told people I was writing about Earth/Earth and they said ‘why bother?’ The second iteration of the essay began to reach towards the lacunae in the narrative, and was driven by a misplaced quest to locate the artworks from Earth/Earth that remain unseen. The third iteration is this one: where the absence of the works themselves points towards a much larger absence in the art history of Aotearoa. Earth/Earth has tricked us into believing a fantasy. This particular intersection of art, energy and politics obscures longer histories of real political action that require our attention. The lesson of writing is found here.


The following people have answered emails, or helped chase down works, or found missing folders, or given permission, or suggested new avenues. Thanks to Aaron Lister, Adrian Hall, Amy Closs, Barbara Speedy, Bridie Lonie, Christina Barton, Damian Skinner, Dougal McNeil, Hanahiva Rose, Jared Davidson, Jennifer Twiss, Karl Chitham, Kim McClintock, Lachlan Taylor, Gregory O’Brien (who in the very last minutes of writing this essay suggested I should try and restage the exhibition), Mary Binney, Michele Beevors, Millie Riddell, Moya Lawson, Nathan Thompson, Nick Austin, Peter Brunt, Peter Ireland, Olivia Bradford, Olivia McLeavey, Rosie Stack, Simon Gennard, Stella Brennan, Sophie Thorn, Tamsyn Bayliss, Tom Riley, and Wystan Curnow (who agreed with my hunch that something was afoot), and all the students in ARTH201 Art and Environment who wanted to know how I was getting on.


Paul Bensemann, Fight For the Forests: The Pivotal Campaigns that Saved New Zealand’s Native Forests. Nelson: Potton and Burton, 2018. Don Binney “Artist’s Statement”, Binney 1959-1989 A Survey. Auckland: Fisher Gallery, 1989. Ron Brownson, “Don Binney (1940-2012),” Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki. 17 September 2012. Hamish Coney, “Groundswell: That 70s Show” Newsroom, 4 March 2019. Wystan Curnow, "Necessary Protection", in McCahon’s Necessary Protection. New Plymouth: Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, 1977, 5-6. Wystan Curnow, “Exhibitions of Sculpture: 1969-1975”, Bulletin of New Zealand Art History 4, 1976. Engineering New Zealand, “Manapouri Power Station” 2023. Anthony Green, “Thoughts at the End of 1971”, Arts and Community 8 no. 1, January 1972. Anthony Green, “McCahon’s Necessary Protection in Auckland”, Art New Zealand 11, Spring 1978, 32. Hamish Keith, “Rough Snub for Early Painters”, The Auckland Star, 24 April 1971. Hamish Keith, “Measuring Time and Space”, The Auckland Star, 31 July 1971. Barry Lett, Earth/Earth. Auckland: Barry Lett Galleries, 1971. Unpaginated. All quotes from artists are taken from the catalogue. Robert Leonard and Wystan Curnow, “Adrian Hall: Bricks in Aspic”, Art New Zealand 90, Autumn 1999. Aaron Lister, “Michael Illingworth”, in New Zealand Art at Te Papa, edited by Mark Stocker. Wellington: Te Papa Press, 2018. Aaron Lister, Manapouri: Art, Power, Protest, National Library Gallery, 30 November 2007- 15 March 2008. Julie MacArthur and Maria Bargh, Environmental Politics and Policy in Aotearoa New Zealand. Auckland: Auckland University Press, 2022, 181-199. T. J. McNamara, “Outstanding Show of Landscapes”, New Zealand Herald, 20 April 1971. Keri Mills, “The Changing Relationship Between Māori and Environmentalists in 1970s and 1980s New Zealand.” History Compass 7, no. 3 (2009): 678–700. Arielle Kauaeroa Monk, “Inside The Land March,” New Zealand Geographic, 77, Sept-Oct 2022. Gregory O’Brien “Solarisation”, Art News Spring 2017. Mark Revington, interview with Tā Tipene O’Regan, “A View From the Top”, Te Karaka, 9 October 2013. Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, “Whenua Moturau” Te Karaka, 7 October 2019. Peter Simpson, Colin McCahon: Is This the Promised Land? Vol 2. 1960-1987. Auckland: Auckland University Press, 2020. Damian Skinner, “Barry Lett (artist and dealer)”, Michael Illingworth Exhibition Oral History Interview Project, 19 April 2000, CA000799, Te Papa Archives, Wellington: Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Kennedy Warne, “Manapouri Damning the Dam”, New Zealand Geographic 100, Nov-Dec 2009. Roger Wilson, From Manapouri to Aramoana: The battle for New Zealand’s Environment. Auckland: Earthworks Press, 1982. David Young, Our Islands, Our Selves: A History of Conservation in New Zealand. Dunedin: Otago University Press, 2004.

About the Author

Susan Ballard (Pākehā) is an Associate Professor of art history at Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand where she teaches courses on art and the environment, affect and memory, and art writing. Su is currently building an environmental art history of Aotearoa housed inside an excel spreadsheet, and writing Shift Work: Art and Life in the Third Millennium, a collaborative book-length essay.

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