Extract on Buller's settlement at Lake Papaitonga

url: http://researcharchive.lincoln.ac.nz/dspace/bitstream/10182/667/5/bowring_phd.pdf.txt

From: INSTITUTIONALISING THE PICTURESQUE by Jacky Bowring, Lincoln University, 1997.

The significance of topography to the picturesque is also demonstrated in the Horowhenua where an area of hilly country contains a lake dotted with islands. Sir Walter Buller, a pioneer natural historian and nature conservationist, immediately appreciated the setting of Lake Papaitonga when he first saw it in the 1850's.

Buller eventually gained possession of the lake after the forceful eviction of the local Maori people, continuing a legacy of removing unwanted occupants and their dwellings from picturesque estates. In England, Joseph Damner had removed the medieval village of Milton Abbas from his estate to allow for a Brownian design around his new house in the 1752, and Lord Harcourt destroyed the ancient village of Newham in 1756 and relocated the villagers discreetly out of sight.

Buller epitomised "The man of wealth and pride" in Goldsmith's mythical The Deserted Village:


"But times are altered; trades unfeeling train
Usurps the land and dispossesses the swain;
Sweet smiling village, loveliest of the lawn,
Thy sports are fled, and all thy charms withdrawn;
Amidst thy bowers the tyrant's hand is seen,
And desolation saddens all thy green:
And only one master grasps the whole domain.”

 
Park's description of how Buller transformed the landscape at Papaitonga after he acquired it in 1892 resonates with Goldsmith's lines:

"The view from the house-site down to the lake was landscaped with fashionable ornamental trees, and a patch of lakeside native forest. he called the Garden of Maui was planted up in the design of 'an epitome of native flora'. Maori canoes and a pataka, important pieces he had collected, and now in the National Museum, were placed on the islands and the lake shore.
Together with its forested rim now surrounded by 'smiling farms', Papaitonga had become a theatrical landscape reminiscent of the great landscaped English estates of the 18th century with their Greek and Italianate sculptures and acropolis."


Buller's landscape garden illustrates the way in which the indigenous buildings of the Maori were  incorporated into the picturesque vocabulary.

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