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Shallow heritage and environmental impact; Legacies of dairying in the Waikato, New Zealand

Kenneth Cumberland’s epic television series Landmarks (1981) contains a memorable vista of a productivist pastoral landscape in Waikato. More than 30 years later the nature of the production has changed, but the legacies of less than 150 years of colonial agriculture have only deepened. In this paper, the piecemeal nature of New Zealand’s detailed historical records is reviewed, with a particular focus on records of agricultural production and change. The argument is that digital technologies have the capacity to improve our understanding of our agricultural heritage, but the investment in skilled people and the development of good heritage tools is needed just as much as digital data capture and storage. One obvious issue that would benefit from better heritage knowledge systems is the impact of the change on local environments. This issue is of particular concern in Waikato, where the impact of agricultural intensification, particularly in the dairy sector, has led to serious concerns about the quality of both aquatic and wild-life environments. The nature of environmental impacts and the response of various agencies is noted in the paper, with reference to importance of the clean and green message New Zealand promotes in international food markets. The paper argues that recording heritage and assessing environmental impacts are more closely connected than might paper at first sight; both have a part to play in understanding the long view of regional histories.
Conference Contribution
Type of thesis
Chalmers, L. (2014). Shallow heritage and environmental impact; Legacies of dairying in the Waikato, New Zealand. Presented at the IGU Regional Conference, Conference held at Krakow, Poland, 18-22 August 2014.