Ka Mua, Ka Muri: NZILA celebrates its 50th anniversary

His journey has begun in the summer of 1972 in Christchurch when, according to founding member Neil Aitken, fifteen signatories applied for registration under the Incorporated Companies Act 1908, which would see the NZILA become a formally recognized incorporation in January the following year .

Tuia Pito Ora – He Whakaahua. Image:


Last month Tuia Pito Ora – He Whakaahua was published to commemorate 50 years of NZILA and document the history of the landscape architect profession in Aotearoa, New Zealand.

The celebrations kicked off on October 11 with the NZILA Firth 2022 Conference, which took place over three days and culminated in the 2022 Resene New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architecture Awards Gala held at the Cordis Hotel in ‘Auckland.

The theme of this year’s conference was Ka Mua, Ka Muri inspired by the whakatauki ‘Kia whakatōmuri te haere whakamua’ (walking backwards towards the future with eyes fixed on the past).

October 11: A welcome

On the first day of the conference, a one-day wānanga for landscape architecture students from across the country was held at the Te Noho Kotahitanga marae at Unitec in Auckland.

An Auckland waterfront excursion was organized by Ethan Reid of LandLAB with speakers from Isthmus, Jasmax and Wraight Associates covering eight key projects encompassing some of the best examples of landscape architecture in the country including Amey Daldy Park, Tiramarama Way, Jellicoe Street, Tank Park, Quay Street, Te Wānanga, Te Ngau o Horotiu Ferry and the recently completed Te Komitihanga Square.

Bela Grimsdale (Te Ātiawa, Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Toa), addresses participants during Hīkoi Takutai Tāone (Waterfront Walking Tour). Image:


Dr Haare Williams gave NZILA its name te reo Maori Tuia Pito Ora and was the first recipient of the Tu Kahikatea Tohu Award. Image:


Later in the day, a welcome ceremony was held in the Great Hall of the Cordis Hotel, where Lifetime Memberships, Scholarships, 2021 Registration Certificates and President’s Awards were presented. The NZILA says the awards provide an opportunity to recognize members, other design disciplines and organizations that contribute to the development and promotion of landscape architecture.

A new prize was also awarded in the evening. The Tū Kahikatea Tohu Award was presented to Dr. Haare Williams in recognition of his exceptional and enduring commitment to kaupapa Māori, and, in particular, for the gift of the name Tuia Pito Ora to the Institute.

October 12: 50 years of history

On the second day of the conference, an official welcoming whakatau was given by hosts Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei followed by a welcome speech by President Henry Crothers.

In line with the theme of recognizing the past before looking to the future, a historical review of the past five decades of NZILA was given by founding member Dr Frank Boffa and a presentation by Dr Diane Menzies gave a conference on the impacts of colonization.

Later, a panel discussion with presenters Simon Swaffield (Chair), Julia Williams, Sarah Collins, Stephen Brown, Shannon Bray, Dr. Frank Boffa and Diane Menzies enabled dialogue between keynote speakers and attendees.

Pictured, left to right, are panel presenters Shannon Bray, Stephen Brown, Julia Williams, Sarah Collins, Dr Frank Boffa, Dr Diane Menzies and (standing) Simon Swaffield. Image:


Dr. Diane Menzies (Ngāti Kahungunu) presents her lecture “Challenges and successes: the second twenty-five years of our profession”. Image:


A socio-political undercurrent to the talks continued with Hannah Hopewell presenting a talk titled “Unsettling Settling – Why Landscape Architecture Needs to Think About the Politics of Design” and Sara Zwart and Karen Wilson’s presentation of ” Te Whakaoranga o te Puhinui: Tino Rangatiratanga in Action’, a strategy to regenerate the whakapapa of a deeply degraded watershed in South Auckland.

William Hatton of Boffa Miskell commented, “It’s really great to see where we’ve come to over the past 50 years and a lot of korero is about growing, you know, moving forward. So to see that hononga, that connection there, was really awesome.

Presentations by Emily Lane on the problem of flooding, Richard J. Weller on biodiversity and urbanism and David Irwin on a new Aotearoa, provided insight into some of the most pressing issues affecting landscape architects today. today.

This was followed by presentations from well-known industry academics Jacky Bowring, Matthew Bradbury and Peter Connolly, Bowring encouraging movement (also seen in architectural practice), to tread more lightly in the field, Bradbury on the role that landscape architecture can play in reducing the impact of climate disasters in Tāmaki Makaurau, and Connolly on viewing landscape architecture through the prism of recent neuroscience.

Dr Jacky Bowring, Jury Chair for the Resene New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architecture Awards 2022, summed up the day’s presentations well: “Some quite shocking in terms of sea level rise, in terms of challenging our cultural competence, all those things that we have to juggle. Decarbonization, decolonization, we have a lot of things that we need to pay attention to, and that was a very good goal for that.

October 13: Contemplating the future

On the third day of the conference, the focus was on the future of landscape architecture practice in Aotearoa. Ask questions such as what will be the relevance, nature and form of Tuia Pito Ora in the future?

This saw presentations by Alayna Pakinui Rā on the evolving bicultural context of Aotearoa, followed by a lecture by Gavin Lister, Rachel de Lambert and Alan Titchner on Te Tangi a te Manu (the new Landscape Assessment Guidelines released this year) and David Kirkpatrick (Environmental Court Chief Justice) on resource management reform.

Gary Marshall of Resilio Studio pictured here presented “A Green Infrastructure Network for Manukau”. Image:


Other presentations by Gary Marshall (an award-winning landscape architect and permaculture advocate), focused on green infrastructure for Manukau, and Di Lucas presented a case of valuing the landscape through its natural ecologies and habitats.

The day ended with a spotlight on the landscape architecture of improved public spaces on Auckland’s waterfront, and talks by Craig Pocock and Martin O’Dea, followed by Kongjian Yu on the need to reduce emissions carbon from the built environment and the impacts of climate change.

Resene New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architecture Awards Gala 2022

As part of 50 year celebrations, the 2022 Resene New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architecture Awards Gala was held on October 13 at the Cordis Hotel in Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland – the first awards dinner held since 2019 .

The awards program aims to celebrate the creativity, technical ability and diversity of skills that landscape architects provide as integrators of landscape, people and place in Aotearoa.

George Malcolm Supreme Prize Winner: Te Wānanga. Image:


The three top prizes of the night went to the project teams behind Te Wānanga, Te Whakaoranga o Te Puhinui: Te Rautaki, and the Kaikōura Earthquake Response Transportation Corridor and Landscape.

The awards gala was an opportunity to reflect on the learnings of the conference and celebrate the achievements and advances in the practice of landscape architecture in Aotearoa.

NZILA President Henry Crothers and founding member Frank Boffa shake hands before cutting the cake. Image:


As newly appointed Fellow Catherine Hamilton wrote after the event: “The highlight must have been the awards night. What a sea change for our profession to have so many projects delivered through an authentic co-design process with Maori. Seeing the different Iwi/Hapu on stage and hearing Te Reo spoken coherently was fantastic.

Judges’ panel chairman Dr. Jacky Bowring agreed and said overnight that a cultural shift, a “radical shift” was palpable throughout the awards process, as a true partnership with mana whenua was celebrated.

For the organizer, Vicki Clague, Chief Operating Officer of NZILA, it was an extremely important event. “Bringing about half of our members to Tāmaki Makaurau to participate in the Institute’s 50th anniversary celebrations was a milestone in itself.

“After a covid-enforced hiatus, it was fantastic to celebrate our people and our profession in one place. To our sponsors, thank you, the Institute is forever grateful for your continued support that allows us to come together, learn, have fun and celebrate,” she said.

Looking ahead, the three-day conference recalls the challenges landscape architects face in ensuring the future well-being of New Zealand’s landscapes and tangata – not only environmentally and socially – but also culturally and politically.

For more information, visit the New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architects Tuia Pito Ora website.

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