Orongo Station Conservation Master Plan

Poverty Bay, New Zealand
(2002 - 2012)

Orongo Station is a 3,000-acre sheep station on the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand. The Station was the landing point for the Great Migration of Maori people in 1100, and again for Captain Cook’s crew when they discovered New Zealand in 1769. Subsequent colonization subjected the site to ongoing resource depletion as a result of unregulated sheep farming. With approval from New Zealand Parliament and in collaboration with local environmental officials and Maori tribal leaders, NBW designed and implemented multiple productive farming operations, a restoration regime to repair ecological damage of the past 100 years, a series of gardens inspired by vernacular cultural and environmental influences that have helped shape the New Zealand landscape. An important aspect of the project was the inclusion of native tribes people in the design process. NBW collaborated with the indigenous Maori tribe to restore a historic cemetery on the property that is still in use. Maori earthwork constructions - defense structures, food storage pits, and others - were preserved and revealed through various design strategies.

Over 500,000 trees have been planted to start reforesting the sheep-grazed land while still maintaining a farm that is even more economically viable than before forestation. Over 75 acres of fresh and saltwater wetlands have been restored and constructed. These projects have contributed to the local economy by providing opportunities for the local people to establish nurseries that supply trees and plants for ecological restoration. By integrating cultural and ecological landscape restoration with active, profitable agricultural operations, Orongo Station serves as a national model for sustainable land management.

Collaborators: Architects James Blackburn/Robin Butt, Marianne Mackey Interior Design, Katie Ridder Design and Decoration, The Ngai Thamanuhiri Trust, Ecoworks, Native Tree Planters, Excluder Fence Company, Agfirst Engineering, Native Garden Nursery, Roger Evans, Grant & Cook Surveyors, Bill Ireland, Phil Gaby, Escape Landscapes