When the author lived in Christchurch, she found that many Cantabrians would become highly impassioned with even the suggestion of a development threatening the tussocked landscape of the Port Hills. The author even struck cases where people opposed native tree-planting projects because they would detract from the “natural tussocked landscape”. Certainly, it is hard to find a Cantabrian who is not fond of the soft, light golden-tinged tussocked hills that surround Christchurch, nor one who would question the “naturalness” of this landscape.

Yet, the tussocked hillsides of which Cantabrians are so fond are not natural, but a result of human intervention over time – through fire, logging and grazing. Some of this human-caused change occurred prior to European settlement, which is perhaps why the current landscape has become so fully ingrained in the collective psyche as being both natural and beautiful. (more…)