Otuataua Stonefields Lizard
Matthew Bradbury, Margaret McKegg, Scott Greenhalgh, Graham Ussher
The Otuataua Stonefields site, an historic reserve, has high lizard
numbers because of its extensive remnants of artificial rock formations,
the result of both Maori and European clearing of the land for horticulture
and agriculture. These are overlaid with diverse vegetation patterns
which incorporate fragments of indigenous forest, evidence of Maori
cultivation such as kumara and karaka, and the remains of European
cultivation, including macrocarpa shelter belts. A methodology was
developed to intersect the simple vectors of known lizard population,
lizard habitat, and public access connections, especially cycle
and walkway corridors.
GIS mapping revealed the presence of a newly constructed coastal
walkway and its associated infrastructure, developed under the auspices
of Watercare Services. The walkway runs between the stonefields
and the coastal reserve. The project connects these artificially
separated realms through the identification of landscape 'moments,'
adjacencies of topography, pathway and European and Maori stonework
that are brought together by active intervention.
Lizard Garden One
Through a process of extending and extruding the historic gardening
structures and techniques used by Maori and European occupants at
Otuataua, a garden intervention is extrapolated across the Watercare
Coastal Walkway, as new terrain is encountered. Where the existing
stone walls meet the boundary of the stonefields and walkway, the
walls are extended to form lizard connectors into a new lizard garden.
This lizard garden is an extruded, formalised habitat structure
that moves across the walkway.
The garden is separated from the wetland it bounds by a raking,
undulating stone terrace which provides basking habitat for lizards
as well as enclosure to the garden. Within the garden space that
adjoins the walkway, mounded stone extensions covered in Muehlenbeckia
complexa provide vegetative lizard connectors to the basking
enclosure wall. The gardening spaces between the connecting stone
walls and vegetative mound extensions are planted with the native
bindweed found mainly in this area and the almost extinct native
Lizard Garden Two
Where clusters of stone mounds extend across the boundary as it
meets the Watercare Coastal Walkway, an extrapolation of gardening
techniques historically used in this area etches new forms into
the existing terrain. Pits are excavated into the ryegrass-covered
knolls to provide thermal enclosures for lizards and garden making.
The existing and additional stone mounds become lizard connectors
between the stone edges of each pit. The undulating floors of the
pits are covered in mulch, bark and old logs to provide additional
lizard habitat structure, and rows of fruit trees in the pits shed
litter to replenish the floor.