"a distressing lack of regularity": New Zealand Architecture in the 1850s


  • Christine McCarthy




Architecture – New Zealand – History – 19th century


When Colonel Mould of the Royal Engineers at Auckland reported on behalf of the New Zealand Government on Mountfort's proposed accommodation for Governor Thomas Gore Browne, he queried the design's ability to be "lastingly pleasing to the eye," and identified the building's "distressing lack of regularity." This conference asks whether this phrase, describing Mould's discomfort with Mountfort's picturesque design, might also describe New Zealand's built environment in the 1850s more broadly as it negotiated architectural cultural exchanges, largely resulting from incoming British settlers' "flight from flunkeydom and formality." Philippa Mein Smith refers to a William Strutt drawing ("Settler putting out a chimney fire" (1855/1856)) to indicate its cultural hybridity ("the application of indigenous architecture - the whare, built from ponga logs - combined with elements of the English country cottage"), as well as "the power of the "pioneer legend," unpinned by the religious ideology of western commerce: "Pioneers tamed the land and, they believed, made it productive as God intended."


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2021-10-21 — Updated on 2012-10-12


How to Cite

McCarthy, C. (2012). "a distressing lack of regularity": New Zealand Architecture in the 1850s. Architectural History Aotearoa, 9, 1–21. https://doi.org/10.26686/aha.v9i.7291 (Original work published October 21, 2021)

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