EXPLORING FRAMEWORKS FOR A HISTORY OF EARTH BUILDING IN AOTEAROA NEW ZEALAND
Keywords: History, Earth Building, New Zealand, Cob, Sun-dried bricks, Pisé
Abstract. Aotearoa New Zealand has a unique earth building heritage. For centuries, Māori used earth for floors and as a binder for fibrous walling materials. When settlers arrived in the nineteenth century, they brought earth building techniques with them, and in the early days of colonisation, earth buildings were commonplace. Many still survive, but as processed timber became readily available, building in earth declined; by the middle of the twentieth century it had almost ceased. Following renewed interest after World War Two, earth building continued into the twenty-first century, albeit as a non-standard form of construction. Databases compiled by Heritage New Zealand, Miles Allen, and the author, supplemented by accounts from a variety of sources, provide a relatively detailed record of earth buildings from all over Aotearoa but no cohesive history has yet been written. This paper considers possible approaches to writing such a history. Methodologies employed in local and international architectural histories are analysed, and a number of structural hierarchies are identified: for instance, Ronald Rael organises his material firstly by technique and then chronology in Earth Architecture, while Ted Howard uses location and then chronology for his Australasian history, Mud and Man. Information from New Zealand sources is then applied to these frameworks to arrive at an appropriate structural hierarchy for a complete history of earth building in Aotearoa.