An 'American dream' in the 'England of the Pacific' : American influences on New Zealand architecture, 1840-1940 (2001)
Type of ContentTheses / Dissertations
Thesis DisciplineArt History
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
PublisherUniversity of Canterbury
AuthorsMcEwan, Ann Elizabethshow all
This thesis investigates the American influence upon New Zealand architecture between 1840 and 1940. Taking a thematic approach, it argues that architecture in New Zealand, as a case study of a broader historical discourse, reveals the significant impact of American styles, construction methods, publications and educational practices in the century prior to World War Two. Chapter One canvases the general history of N.Z.-U.S. relations before 1940. Chapter Two reviews the same chronology to identify specific architecturally designed buildings that reveal an American influence upon New Zealand practitioners. Divided into two parts this extended discussion also explains why American architecture offered useful paradigms to designers in the South Pacific. Chapter Three demonstrates how publications were the principal means by which American architectural ideas were communicated to architects and builders in New Zealand. In a similar vein Chapter Four examines the ways in which architectural education brought practitioners in the United States and New Zealand together in common cause. Chapters Three and Four address the 'how' of American architectural influence in New Zealand. Chapter Five considers how New Zealand architects reacted to the presence of American influences within their local cultural domain. In addressing the question, why has greater attention not been paid to American architectural influences in New Zealand before now, it highlights a degree of resistance within the profession that was informed by both class sensitivities and imperial loyalties. In the Conclusion it is argued that the perception of World War Two as a watershed in New Zealand's cultural and social history, during which New Zealanders became aware of the United States for the first time, is ignorant of the longstanding relationship between the two nations. The construct of New Zealand's cultural isolation in the century or more before World War Two can be dismantled in the course of examining New Zealand's architectural history.