, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 373–393 | Cite as

The Role of Cultural and Indigenous Values in Geosite Evaluations on a Quaternary Monogenetic Volcanic Landscape at Ihumātao, Auckland Volcanic Field, New Zealand

  • Ilmars Gravis
  • Károly NémethEmail author
  • Jonathan N. Procter
Original Article


The Ihumātao Peninsula is located within the wider Mangere region in South Auckland, New Zealand. Significant sites of geological, cultural and ecological value are a recorded feature of this area. One of the most significant sites in the region is the Otuataua Stonefields Historic Reserve (OSHR). Geologically, this area is a Quaternary lava flow field with tuff rings, scoria and spatter cones. It sits within the Auckland Volcanic Field (AVF), and the landscape of the OSHR and the wider Ihumātao Peninsula may be seen as the physical expression of a unique convergence of ecological, geological and cultural values. Geosite evaluation methods applied to the Ihumātao Peninsula, following two distinct methods, shed light on potential high geoheritage values the region holds. These values may be looked at as a good base to develop effective geoeducational, geoconservational and geotouristic programs. The study also showed that implementing management strategies to add and conserve geosite values in the region could provide positive outcomes; however, reduction of its main geosite values would be inevitable and irreversible should proposed urban development take place on a block of land immediately bordering the OSHR. The Ihumātao Peninsula is one of several areas of South Auckland where urbanization has left significant areas relatively untouched until the present, whereby they are now threatened by intense housing and industrial development. The geological features of these areas unquestionably hold geological heritage values, allowing understanding of the interplay between low coastal land and rising basaltic magma. This interplay has resulted in a landscape potentially featuring the greatest volcanic geodiversity of the entire AVF. In addition, this relatively undeveloped land provides an unbroken physical and cultural record dating to arrival of the first humans in New Zealand. Of particular note is the physical artefacts and archaeological sites telling a story of settlers attracted to, utilizing and shaping this discrete region of the AVF. Geosite evaluations demonstrate that high geoheritage values of regions like the Ihumātao Peninsula are influenced by the strong cultural link between the community (in particular the indigenous population) and the volcanic landscape. These cultural factors could be given more weight in currently used geosite evaluation methods, enabling such geoheritage values to be demonstrated in a more explicit and meaningful way and providing a basis for further community education and protection of specific sites within the geographical context of the Ihumātao Peninsula.


Geoheritage Geosite Monogenetic volcanic field Scoria Basalt Human occupation Māori 



This paper dedicated to the memory of John Divers, 1958–2016.

We would like to thank all for the support of geoheritage research in the Ihumatao Peninsula: David Veart, Bruce Hayward, Ian Lawlor, Peter Crossley, Jeremy Treadwell, Members and supporters of Save Our Unique Landscapes Campaign (Waimarie McFarland, Moana Waa Thomas Katene, Pania Newton, Haki Wilson, Qiane Matata-Sipu, Bobbi-Jo Pihema), Mangere Mountain Education Centre (Ane Karika, Graeme Campbell, Brendan Corbett, Farrell Cleary). This research is partially supported through Massey University. KN was supported through the New Zealand National Hazard Platform project and Massey University Research Fund. Formal reviews of the manuscript by Bruce Hayward and Hugo Murcia lifted significantly the quality of this work, many thanks for the valuable comments and suggestions.


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Copyright information

© The European Association for Conservation of the Geological Heritage 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ilmars Gravis
    • 1
  • Károly Németh
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jonathan N. Procter
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Agriculture and EnvironmentMassey UniversityPalmerston NorthNew Zealand

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