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Winsome to Worldly: Lake Wanaka and its people

2 September, 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

Dr Jonathan West, recipient of the Friends of the Hocken Collections Award 2020, will speak about his research on the southern lakes (towards the 2024 publication of a book by Otago University Press). This prestigious talk was originally scheduled for 2 September 2021, the 114th Anniversary of the signing of the Hocken Deed of Trust.

Venue: The Hocken Library, 90 Anzac Parade, Dunedin

Date: Friday 2 September 2022, at 5.30 pm

Dr West writes:

In this talk I trace a history of Lake Wanaka, and the people of its shores and catchment. I explore how Maori lived around the lake, and the implications of their absence when Europeans first found their way to Wanaka from the 1850s. Touted from the outset as a scenic resort beside ‘the most beautiful lake in the world,’ Wanaka was a little village for over one hundred years. ‘Winsome Wanaka’ felt itself isolated, and innocent. Its people, though few, fought off successive governments seeking to control Lake Wanaka. They entrenched in law a vision of Wanaka as a great southern lake to forever remain untouched by hydropower development, whose shores and waters would be protected in perpetuity. But Wanaka has recently and rapidly become a worldly town. Traffic with the world has brought not just wealth but a wide range of threats to the lake. Problems with lake weed and snot have seemed intractable. Intensification of land use following tenure review and the explosive growth of suburban subdivisions has transformed Wanaka, and the lake’s catchment. Today, the state and fate of the lake are a projection of people’s fears and dreams for their own future. What will it say about ourselves, if we cannot succeed in protecting Wanaka?

ALL WELCOME. Please bring a mask to wear.


2 September
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm


Hocken Library Seminar Room
90 Anzac Avenue
Dunedin, Otago 9010 New Zealand
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