Historical geography of Westland before 1914
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
New Zealanders have long recognised the distinctive qualities of the long and narrow strip of inhabited country on the west coast of the South Island. In this study the area is termed 'Westland' although others have preferred the designation 'West Coast' and would argue that there is little fear of confusing it with any other west coast in New Zealand. The uniqueness of Westland as a region of New Zealand scarcely needs emphasis. Indeed, the peculiarities of the land and its people are often exaggerated and the popular image of the present day West Coaster tends to be an amalgam of the romantically conceived characteristics of the nineteenth century frontiersman - a hard-drinking, hard-working and free-spending pioneer, generous and friendly yet distrustful of authority. In Westland the modern New Zealander likes to see a home-grown 'wild west', albeit a more orderly one than its North American prototype. In an area where man's conversion of the primitive landscape is so obviously incomplete, pioneer characteristics are supposed to have persisted longer than in other parts of the country.