Harry Turbott – New Zealand’s First Landscape Architect


Environmental design and landscape architecture are growing fields in New Zealand as people become more aware of the possibilities and benefits of sustainable development. Harry Turbott (1930-2016) played a crucial role in introducing these concepts to New Zealand. Now we can truly celebrate his work for the first time with Garth Falconer's new book, written and published to recognise Turbott’s pioneering achievements.

I am pleased to announce the release of a 220-page hard-cover, beautifully illustrated book, showcasing and immortalising Turbott’s life, works and legacy.

I first met Harry early in his career and reconnected with him in 2015 to write this important book, ensuring his legacy continues to live on. It has been over four years since that meeting, in which time I collected archival research, notes, and stories about Harry, as well as photos of key projects by Simon Devitt, to deliver on my commitment.

As a landscape architect, teacher and environmentalist, Harry was at the forefront of the first wave of environmental design. His work across many areas of landscape architecture was prolific.

The estranged son of well-known radio broadcaster, Dr Turbott, Harry had an interesting life. Upon graduating from the University of Auckland’s School of Architecture, he won a scholarship to study at Harvard University, where he completed a Master’s in Landscape Architecture. He then spent 18 months working closely with Dan Kiley, America’s foremost landscape architect, before touring Europe and India with his wife Nan, who was a celebrated artist (1928-1977).

They returned to New Zealand in 1961 and settled in Karekare, a remote West Auckland beach. From there Harry embarked on a ground-breaking design career, working on motorways, beachfront farms, suburban shopping centres, national parks, Pacific Island resorts and ski fields.

All of Harry’s work showed immense respect and care for the environment. He believed the designer’s role was one of service to society to protect, restore and enhance the environment of which people were intimately and irrevocably part of.

Harry recognised the importance of indigenous architecture. He embraced Māori and Pasifika cultures during many collaborative projects, including the restoration of Rarotonga’s Para O Tane Palace in Rarotonga and the Arataki Visitors Centre in the Waitākere Ranges.

The biography offers an intimate portrait of Harry’s life, his global influences and outlines several of his legacy projects. The final section is a short chapter written by Sir Bob Harvey on the life of Harry’s wife and her work. Harry and Sir Bob were close friends due to their years spent as close neighbours.

Harry Turbott – New Zealand’s first landscape architect is my second book, following on the heels of Living in Paradox (2015).

RRP NZD $75 + postage. To order contact us

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At Reset Urban Design, we offer a broad scope of services within the specialist areas of Urban Design and Landscape Architecture. We also actively engage in research and have contributed two published books on the history of design in New Zealand.