Memory, evidence, and artifice: the overseas journal in New Zealand post-war architectural historiography


  • Michael Dudding



Modern movement (Architecture), Historiography, Oral history, Memory, Autobiography, Publications, Modernism (Architecture)


This paper is based upon the premise that US architectural journals have had a much greater significance on the development of post-war New Zealand Modernism than has thus far been admitted to be the case. This is a rather difficult position to defend, not just because of a lack of hard evidence, but because the established orthodoxy posits the English Architectural Review as the ‘bible' to this generation of architects. The privileging of the Architectural Review in recent historiography is easily traced to a 1994 interview, conducted by Philippa Hoeta, with five architects who belong to that post-war generation. As a "fact," this privileging can easily be taken at face value: there is evidence in the many libraries and collections that subscribed to the Review; and there is the personal testimony provided in the interview itself. It is fairly safe to say that the statement is valid. But somewhere along the process, which sees simple fact become historiographic truth, other truths are overlooked, skirted around, rejected, or forgotten - perhaps there was more than one gospel? In the Hoeta interview, the conversation was redirected after only a few seconds - the journal discussion was not returned to. This paper restarts that discussion, extends it, and probes deeper to find the role and significance of the other journals that sat next to the Review on local architects' shelves. New Zealand architectural historiography has shifted into its second-generational phase; where the canon is largely set and new histories are able to operate uncritically within its scope, its structure and main narratives have become entrenched, and the key truths are almost self-evident. This paper picks up on one such truth, examines the historiographic process from which it arose, and investigates what has been obscured by uncritical adherence to its complete veracity.


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How to Cite

Dudding, M. (2008). Memory, evidence, and artifice: the overseas journal in New Zealand post-war architectural historiography. Architectural History Aotearoa, 5, 34–44.