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dc.contributor.advisorWanhalla, Angela
dc.contributor.advisorBennett, Judith
dc.contributor.authorAnderson, Rosemary Ellen
dc.identifier.citationAnderson, R. E. (2019). Wind and Shifting Sands: Sensing Place and Identity on Chatham Island, 1850-1950 (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy). University of Otago. Retrieved from
dc.description.abstractThe climate and environment of Chatham Island shatters romantic notions of the sun-drenched Pacific paradise. Part of New Zealand since 1842, these cold-water islands are seldom included in nationalistic thought, and Chatham Islanders rarely identify as New Zealanders. Historically, this small and diverse population shared a separate set of life circumstances, in a distinctive environment where natural elements shaped the modus operandi of everyday life. Historians acknowledge this sense of difference, but past lives, and the evolution of the characteristic Chatham Islander, have never been studied in any depth. Perceptions of place and difference are at the core of this thesis. Based on the premise that sense impressions are our windows on the world, this thesis examines the role of nature and environment in shaping place and identity. Adopting a multi-disciplinary approach, it shows how this dynamic natural environment shaped individuals and society. Through everyday dealings with bogs, mud, and unpredictable seas, it reveals how sense-impressions mediated interactions with environment, with one another, and with the outside world. Inclusive of social relations, livelihoods, and routines, it studies the effects of sensed and felt experiences on mood and emotion, aspects seldom included in social histories of place and community. A sensory approach helps interpret and make sense of complex and multi-layered perceptions of environment and place, to uncover the lived and felt experiences of the Chatham Islanders between 1850 and 1950. Reimagined as part of a terraqueous whole, a confluence of weather systems, waves, tides, and currents, Chatham Island is situated within its wider Pacific environment. Diffusing boundaries, a terraqueous approach highlights aspects of permeability, vulnerability, and exchange. These fusions of elements dramatically affected shores and surrounding seas, hindering shipping and communication. Less-easily conceived are the perennial difficulties of in-island mobility. Terrain and weather significantly impeded movement and affected the nature and timing of institutional development and infrastructure, most notably roading. Social atomisation had adverse effects on the individual and collective psyche, but conversely, when explored through the geographical concept of time-space compression, a slower pace of life is shown to preserve sensory engagement with environment, and to inscribe this place with more positive meanings. Commonality of experience strengthened bonds between island peoples, and isolation was overcome through basic tenets of care, expressed through hospitality, the gathering and sharing of food, and community responsibility in times of sickness and need. Isolation from without was often keenly felt, and by considering the movement of people, mail, and newspapers, and the advent of wireless telegraphy and radio broadcasting, this thesis shows connections with the outside world were crucial in alleviating a sense of distance and deprivation. Distance and difference did generate certain insular characteristics which shaped the unique identity of the Chatham Islander, and the human personality gradually merged with its milieu, but as this thesis contends, these self-imposed borders did not always work to the islander’s advantage in dealings with mainland officialdom. Yet, psychological boundaries between insiders and outsiders were more malleable than they first appear.
dc.publisherUniversity of Otago
dc.rightsAll items in OUR Archive are provided for private study and research purposes and are protected by copyright with all rights reserved unless otherwise indicated.
dc.subjectChatham Islands
dc.subjectNew Zealand
dc.titleWind and Shifting Sands: Sensing Place and Identity on Chatham Island, 1850-1950
dc.language.rfc3066en of Philosophy of Otago
otago.openaccessAbstract Only
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