In a country where land disputes were the chief cause of conflict between the coloniser and the colonised, surveying could never be a neutral, depoliticised pastime.
In a groundbreaking piece of scholarship, Giselle Byrnes examines the way surveyors became figuratively and literally ‘the cutting edge of colonisation’. Clearing New Zealand’s vast forests, laying out town plans and deciding on place names, they were at every moment asserting British power. Boundary Markers also shows how the surveyors’ ‘commercial gaze’, a view of the countryside coloured by the desire for profit, put them at odds with the Māori view of land.
Table of contents
1. Texts, contexts and special history
2. The cutting edge of colonisation: land surveying in colonial New Zealand
3. ‘As far as the eye can reach’: reading landscapes
4. The calligraphy of colonisation: writing the country
5. ‘Creating boundaries in the unoccupied wilderness’: the boundaries of cultural space
Conclusion: Cultural space complete?
'Boundary Markers is an important book for New Zealand cultural landscape studies. It offers an accessible and locally relevant text on a powerful transformation of the landscape, and a critically informed social history. It also adds to the process of shaping a national identity, elucidating the processes and products of the acts of measuring and plotting that helped shape the country.' Jacky Bowring, Landscape Review