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Kopuwai Consulting

Central Otago Regional Identity Partner

A World of Difference

Kopuwai Consulting owner and director, Matt Sole, appreciates the Kopuwai Ranges as `his mountain - Tūrangawaewae’—an inspirational landform of rugged, raw beauty visible from his office window. Kopuwai became the name of the archaeological consultancy he established in 2008 out of respect for our first cultural stewards. 

kopuwai consulting ltd 1Growing up in Christchurch, Matt’s weekends were spent exploring the Port Hills. Later, it was travelling through small Canterbury towns on family holiday trips to Lake Sumner that kindled his deep, absorbing interest in heritage.

“Something clicked or triggered. And I just thought `Look at all of this!’ And you know, I’d been looking at it for years and not seeing the historic features or values that were there.”

“I came to understand that people needed to value heritage, to understand and appreciate it, so there is a path that you have to walk down to engender that engagement. Otherwise you are preserving stuff that people don’t understand and have no respect for.”

A Rich Tapestry

Regional value: Having Integrity

Preserving Central Otago’s rich heritage means respecting and appreciating what’s gone before and keeping things real. It’s being open and honest about who we are and where we want to be, yet also acknowledging the complexities and contributions of the past.

“When we talk about heritage I like to look at it from a landscape point of view and then in terms of the cultural layers that have gone across that. So, you’re looking at pre-Māori, Māori, European, pastoral farming and gold mining…to more recent activities such as viticulture and orcharding.”

“It’s about describing that tapestry with integrity so that people can make an informed decision about how they propose to use that going forward.”

A Living Heritage

Regional value: Protecting Our Rich Heritage

At the heart of Matt’s work is an aspiration to respect, protect and celebrate the uniqueness of Central Otago’s landscapes, flora, fauna and people. He feels a spiritual connection here that’s shaped by the empowering, energizing semi arid landscape with its rare and unique adaptations.

“I’m very aware of my surroundings and environment. I think a lot of it has to do with meditation and the fact that we are living organisms in a living environment…it’s about being real and engaged.”

“It’s a matter of developing solutions that preserve and manage heritage but allow people to engage and experience in those things in meaningful adaptive reuse…but in a way that ensures and preserves the historic features and values into the future.”

Delivering Resilience

Regional value: Making a Sustainable Difference

The `mother and father to us all’ is how Matt describes our environment. It sustains and preserves us and we’re not looking after it well. He sees the need for robust conversations that go beyond sustainability to deliver resilience in what we do and how we do it.

“As an archaeologist I get to look at a lot of early photographs. I look at photographs of where I live and at the footprint and the changes we’ve made…and I just have grave concerns over the size and scale of that footprint and what we’re passing on.”

“I’m very, very uncomfortable about how we are borrowing forward at an incredible rate and depriving our future generations. It begs the question as to what sort of ancestors do we want to be remembered for?”

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