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ENVI211 Environmental History of New Zealand

Historical overview of environmental impacts and human expectations from the first settlement of Aotearoa to the present.

ENVI 211 examines the environmental history of New Zealand, with specific focus on the interaction between humans and their environment that has occurred since the arrival of humans about 800 years ago. As one of the last land masses to be settled by humans, and with endemic flora and fauna long isolated from evolutionary trajectories elsewhere, Aotearoa New Zealand is as an outstanding "laboratory" of environmental interaction. With two main pulses of settlement, it offers unique opportunities for comparative studies of human modifications of the environment and human responses to such change. Here we embed both colonial and indigenous perspectives of the environment, and how our shifting gaze and values of "nature" have changed over time, and how these ideals are codified in law. We are concerned with understanding human attitudes to their natural surroundings, human modifications of this environment, and human responses to these changes.

Paper title Environmental History of New Zealand
Paper code ENVI211
Subject Environment and Society
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Semester 2 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $955.05
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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54 points
Schedule C
Arts and Music, Science

Teaching staff

Course Co-ordinator:  To be advised

Paper Structure

This paper comprises of two 50-minute lectures each week supported by one 50-minute tutorial every other week.

Assessment includes short exercises related to tutorials and a research essay.


Recommended: Eric Pawson and Tom Brooking (eds), Making a New Land: Environmental Histories of New Zealand, New Edition (Dunedin: Otago University Press, 2013).

In addition, course materials will be made available electronically.

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

By the end of the paper students will:

  • Have learnt about how perspectives of nature or the "natural world" and the place of humans have transformed over time
  • Have learnt about the complex reasons for the extent and speed of the transformation of Aotearoa New Zealand through the decline of indigenous forests, wetlands, and tussock grasslands and the remaking of the landscape to and industrialised "ideal" embedded by English colonialism
  • Critically reflect on how environmental legacies persist in contemporary environmental management in Aotearoa New Zealand

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Semester 2

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Tuesday 12:00-12:50 28-34, 36-41
Wednesday 12:00-12:50 28-34, 36-41


Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
A1 Monday 10:00-10:50 30, 32, 34, 36, 38, 40-41
A2 Monday 11:00-11:50 30, 32, 34, 36, 38, 40-41
A5 Tuesday 10:00-10:50 30, 32, 34, 36, 38, 40-41