Embedded in place

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This paper explores the understanding that Māori, the indigenous people of Aotearoa/New Zealand, have of “landscape”. I argue that although Māori in the past did “gaze” at their surroundings, and did have visual forms of representation, the concept of “landscape” as it is commonly used in Western scholarly and popular representation is inappropriate. What replaces the profound visuality of the West for Māori is language, especially sound and speech. Māori represent the world primarily through the act of naming, in which naming places becomes an integral way of actively engaging perceptually with the animate and inanimate world. Māori “imagine” named places as “simultaneous landscapes” reflecting cosmology, ancestors, history and everyday life.


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