Putaringamotu/Riccarton Bush : from wilderness to native bush reserve
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameBachelor of Arts (Hons)
This research essay examines the significance of Putaringamotu/Riccarton Bush to the various facets of Canterbury’s history to which it is connected. Putaringamotu/Riccarton Bush is a place of significance to the history of Canterbury as it helps to tell the story of the environment, Maori and the first pioneers of the Canterbury Plains. This research essay draws upon a number of primary sources, such as legislation and personal correspondence, in order to answer the question of why an area of native bush within the city of Christchurch is still significant and relevant today. The answer to this question lies in the ability of the Bush to tell the story of the Canterbury Plains, and those who have called the area home, from the 1300s until the present day. Putaringamotu/Riccarton Bush is the only remnant of the Kahikatea Swamp forests which once covered the Canterbury Plains and therefore contributes to the environmental history of New Zealand. The Bush also uncovers the cultural and social practices of local Maori before the arrival of the first European settlers. However, the reason that Putaringamotu/Riccarton Bush remains so significant today is because of its connection to the pioneering foundations of Christchurch. The Bush inspired and influenced the Deans brothers, Canterbury’s first successful pioneers, and the Canterbury Association, to choose the Plains as the location of the city of Christchurch. It is highly probable that had the Bush not existed upon the Plains then the city of Christchurch may have been established elsewhere. The current use of Putaringamotu/Riccarton Bush as a conservation area and meeting place ensures that each of these facets of Canterbury’s history are acknowledged and remain relevant and significant within Christchurch today.