We held a seminar with speakers Rebecca Kiddle, Amanda Thomas and Morten Gjerde. What is a decolonised city? And how can we decolonise cities to provide services, amenities and good homes for diverse Māori and non-Māori whānau and communities? Imagining Decolonised Cities was an urban design competition that challenged people to imagine what a decolonised city might be like. View the event video.

This seminar is about a project, Imagining Decolonised Cities, that sought to stimulate discussion around what our cities could look, feel, sound, taste and smell like if they were decolonised. It did this through eliciting utopian ideas for a decolonised city from professional designers, young people and the general public, through an urban design competition and a public symposium drawing in speakers from a wealth of backgrounds to discuss the question ‘What is a decolonised city?’ The definition of decolonisation was kept broad – “Cities that are equitable places for all whānau, reflecting Māori values and identity” – so that participants could develop their own ideas of what decolonisation might mean in their proposals. In this seminar the speakers will consider the ways in which decolonisation and indigeneity in relation to urban form were conceptualised by the researchers themselves, the public, symposium speakers and young people involved in the project, to tease out some of the similarities and tensions around thinking about our cities in ways that look backwards and forwards simultaneously.

Presentation: Rebecca Kiddle, Morten Gjerde, Amanda Thomas, Imagining Decolonised Cities or Indigenising the City (pdf)


Decolonising cities


  • Rebecca Kiddle is Ngā Puhi and Ngāti Porou and has postgraduate degrees in urban design. Her research interests are in the nexus between socio-cultural factors and space. In particular she is interested in the role of Māori identity in placemaking in Aotearoa and young people’s involvement in built environment decision-making processes. She is a Lecturer in Environmental Studies and Geography at Victoria University of Wellington.

  • Amanda Thomas is a Lecturer in Environmental Studies at VUW, and is Pākehā. Her background is in human geography, and particularly feminist and decolonising approaches to decision making and environmental politics

  • Morten Gjerde lectures in Architecture and Urban Design at Victoria University of Wellington. He is interested in people’s experience of the built environment and through his research seeks to shed light on preferences around urban streetscapes and medium density housing.

    The project, is a collaboration between Ngāti Toa and Victoria University of Wellington and the research team includes Bianca Elkington, Jennie Smeaton and Jasmine Arthur, from Ngāti Toa’s Te Puna Mātauranga and Tui Arona, Chantal Mawer, Derek Kawiti, Dr Ocean Mercier, Dr Mike Ross, Dr Morten Gjerde, Dr Amanda Thomas and Dr Rebecca Kiddle from Victoria University of Wellington.

This seminar took place on Wednesday 26 July 2017 at City Gallery, 101 Wakefield St, Wellington.

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