Mapping the Land exhibition at Conservation House

Department of Conservation —  21/11/2013

Dozens of rarely seen historic conservation maps have been gathered in a new exhibition at Conservation House in Wellington.

The man behind Mapping the Land, DOC GIS Analyst Matt Grose.

Matt Grose

Mapping the Land, which runs until 31 January, acknowledges the past, and celebrates cartography and map making at all scales. 

Today, we’ve got the man behind the exhibition, DOC GIS Analyst Matt Grose, sharing with us…

Maps are evocative creatures. People love the detail; love tracing journeys of days across inches of paper; reliving moments, experiences; retelling stories.

Maps are born of survey and marking, measurement and defining; they are the story of New Zealand; they record history.

Topographical Plan of Waitangi Treaty House Grounds.

Topographical Plan of Waitangi Treaty House Grounds, Northland, 1993

Maps help us work, define extents and plot resources. They are critical in managing our partnerships, giving confidence to communities and illustrating progress.

Maps are politics and poetry, diplomacy and emergency, recreation and comfort.

Crop from a map of Tararua Mountain System, 1936

Tararua Mountain System, 1936

Maps are colourful, delicate, subtle, detailed, precise.

Maps promise truth but often lie – sometimes on purpose.

Maps are a lot of things to a lot of people.

Crop from map of Puketi. Credit: A.N. Sexton.

Puketi Forest, Northland, 1939

In the face of the overwhelming saturation of digital information into our lives, I wanted to just pause for a moment and acknowledge what came before, what drives us now, and what we would do well not to forget. Maps don’t make themselves.

Legend for the Puketi Forest map.

Legend for the Puketi Forest map, created by A.N. Sexton

This exhibition started out with a simple thought, “Why don’t we take some of the maps that DOC has stored away in cabinets, get them out and put them on display?”.

Despite everything that’s occurred between then and now, that is still the essence of this exhibition—just some maps that look nice. Any greater theme is up to you.

It’s only a little exhibition, but I hope you can come along and get a kick out of it.


As well as maps, you’ll find interpretation, navigation and cartographic objects, and the opportunity for you to draw your own map of the world.

Mapping the Land | Free entry | Until 31 January 2014 | Foyer of Conservation House | 16-32 Manners Street | Wellington