Course Description

Course Name

Environmental History of New Zealand

Session: VDNS3121

Hours & Credits

18 Credit Points

Prerequisites & Language Level

Taught In English

  • There is no language prerequisite for courses at this language level.


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

This is an interdisciplinary paper on the environmental history of New Zealand, ie the interaction of humans and environment that has occurred since the arrival of humans about 800 years ago. It attempts to cover that story in a roughly chronological manner. As one of the last land masses on earth to be settled by humans, and with endemic flora and fauna long isolated from evolutionary trajectories elsewhere, Aotearoa/New Zealand is seen 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.

Learning Outcomes
By the end of the paper students will have learnt about the extent to which New Zealand is a land transformed from rain forest, swamp and tussock land to giant stock farm covered in grasses of English origin. The complex reasons for the extent and speed of that transformation will be explained, and students will have begun to cross the bridge between the Arts and Sciences and the past and future.

Required: 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.

*Course content subject to change