Those thinking of altering a landscape of cultural significance have an ethical obligation to consult with local iwi, a landscape academic says.

Associate professor in landscape architecture at Victoria University Peter Connolly said anyone involved in the process of changing a landmark such as Te Mata Peak had a duty to consider a Maori perspective on the matter.

"I think you're ethically obligated to. If you knew it was a culturally sensitive landscape you should consult local iwi. That seems to be an immediate concern to me."

The professor, who hails from Australia, said it was commonplace in New Zealand for cultural significance to be in the balance of decision making, particularly so with significant landmarks.


"Even on non-nationally significant spaces most landscape architects would take into account Maori issues. There might be an incredibly small project in which they don't but most people would think they would be obligated to consider it.

"But with anything that's significant I would be surprised and concerned that they hadn't consulted iwi. They would feel it was their duty and most people would take it on as an important part of the project."

Auckland's Mt Eden landmark came to mind as one example where local iwi were consulted about changes, he said.

"The mountain is a volcano and they're very valuable places for local iwi. If the landscape architects didn't consult with iwi there is just no way they'd get away with it. It just wouldn't be allowed. They would have to have a really close association with iwi."

Te Mata Peak, a Hawke's Bay landmark loved by locals and visitors alike, commanded such respect, he said.

"The mountain is a person, in effect, so you give it more respect. To me any place Pakeha think is amazing, is usually really important to Maori as well. So I would be shocked if they hadn't fully considered or engaged the local iwi about it."