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Alan Titchener

Posted 18 04 2017

in News

Alan Titchener with Shannon Bray (NZILA President)
Alan Titchener with Shannon Bray (NZILA President)
Life Membership to the New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architects

Alan Titchener, NZILA Member received the honour of Life Membership to the Institute in Wellington on Thursday 6th April. Alan was presented with his Membership by Shannon Bray, NZILA President.


Alan Titchener has been a member of NZILA since its foundation in 1973, and has recently retired from professional practice.

Born in rural Hawke’s Bay in 1950, Alan received his secondary education at Central Hawke’s Bay College, Te Aute College and Palmerston North Boys High School. He completed a Bachelor of Horticulture at Massey University, before graduating from Lincoln University in 1975 with a post-graduate Diploma in Landscape Architecture.

After graduation, Alan worked for three years for the then Ministry of Works and Development, based in Palmerston North. During this time he was involved in a wide range of development projects, including: housing developments; highway construction; schools and power stations.

At the end of this period he opted to return to his home area of Hawke’s Bay to become a private consultant and established his own practice, Alan Titchener and Associates Landscape Architects. In 1989, he amalgamated this practice with two others to form Titchener Monzingo Aitken Ltd Landscape Architects, which he has directed and practiced under since.

Alan has been an active member of the NZILA since graduation. His career contribution to both the institute and profession has been significant and distinctly notable. He served as the national president from 1993 to 1995, prior to which he served on the Executive Committee for several years include Vice President for four years. During this time, and following, he was a frequent contributor of the then Journal. He was made a Fellow of the institute in 1997.

He served as NZILA’s representation at IFLA (International Federation of Landscape Architects) for a period of 6 years, during which he served some time as President for the Asia Pacific Region. He was selected on the juries for the IFLA-APR Awards Program, the prestigious IFLA Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe Award, and the Jinzhou 2013 World Landscape Art Exposition. During his term, he also attended Regional Committee meetings and World Council meetings, and been an important conduit between us and the international arena of landscape architecture, as well as representing NZILA at events and voting on the Institute's behalf at IFLA elections.

In 2007 Alan presented NZILA’s successful bid to host the joint NZILA - AILA 50th World Congress in Auckland in 2013. In the IFLA Newsletter August 2010 (Issue 88) he set out his vision for the IFLA Asia Pacific Region and brought his own perspective where he observed....

We need to explore and recognize the essence of our respective cultures and find new ways of expressing them in the world we live in. Identifying, protecting and, where appropriate, restoring and rejuvenating our cultural landscapes is an essential part of this. The Asia Pacific is richly endowed with cultural landscapes of breathtaking beauty and profound sacredness. Landscape architects need to be at the forefront of these processes, working alongside historians and archaeologists to ensure that the past is recognized, valued and respected.... The lessons learned from these places also need to be applied to the ordinary places that we frequent.

Image: uploads/2017_04/Alans_life_membership_presentation_2.jpg

Of part-Māori descent, Alan has had a long commitment to biculturalism. Over many years, he has gained a sound knowledge of Māori protocol and te reo. He has a deep sense of the concept of kaitiakitanga and of mauri. He is a founding member of Ngā Aho, a collective of Maori design professionals and is the co-ordinator of a group of Maori landscape architects. Alan has a special interest in the connections and relationships between landscape and indigenous cultures, and in cultural and heritage landscapes as a specific area of landscape architectural expertise.

To this end, Alan has played a key part in the recent development of the NZILA bicultural strategy. He continues to work with the institute, and Ngā Aho through volunteering his time as part of Te Tau a Nuku. Earlier this year he was inducted into Kahui Whetu at the Ngā Aho hui.

In 1987 his wisdom and cultural intellect gave purpose to the national conference E Rua Nga Iwi Kotahi Ano Te Whenua, held in his old stomping ground at Te Aute College. Alan also contributed significantly to the hosting of the 2007 Landscape of Lifestyle conference in Hawke’s Bay. He has been a keynote speaker, presenter of various papers and chairs of several sessions at numerous other national and international conferences.

In recent times, Alan played a key part in developing and presenting a travelling Wānanga for NZILA, for which much of his time was donated.

Alan has a long commitment to education and mentoring. He served as a part time lecturer and tutor at Lincoln University and the Eastern Institute of Technology, as well as providing numerous ex-gratia hours to the teaching and development of students. In 1990, as a Visiting Lecturer to Lincoln University he presented a series of seminars on the Treaty of Waitangi and bicultural issues relating to landscape architects. He served as the NZILA representative on the Major Design Examining Panel in 1993 and 1994. He continues to support tertiary education through his role on the Unitec Māori Advisory Committee and as a tutor.

He has been a mentor and provided ‘apprenticeships’ to a number of now Registered Members. Through his involvement with the Hawke’s Bay branch, he has assisted with the development of graduates through the then Associate process.

Through his University involvements, Alan has co-authored numerous publications, including ‘Garden Design, a New Zealand Guide’ published by Canterbury University Press in 1993. Many of his projects have also featured in landscape architecture and design books authored by others.

There can be no doubting Alan’s continued, long term commitment to the advancement of landscape architecture in New Zealand. His love of the Hawke’s Bay landscape and his embracement of Māori values has led Alan on a varied and rewarding career that will forever leave a mark on the landscape architecture profession. His humble persona means he will always acquit himself with dignity and quiet authority, and even in retirement we can be sure that he will champion the values of our profession. It is said by many that Alan as exhibits the very best of what landscape architecture is about – he is highly collaborative and communicates well.  His skills in diplomacy and his never-ending energy and enthusiasm led to a significant level of respect across the Asia Pacific Region and within the IFLA global family.

The following summary has been provided by one of the supporters of this nomination, but captures the thoughts of all who were consulted in the preparation of this citation:

From my perspective Alan’s most notable public contributions fall under three headings: to NZILA leadership and administration; to IFLA; and most significantly in leading the development of a bi-cultural awareness and practice in Landscape Architecture in New Zealand for over 30 years. To this add continuing and passionate contributions to education and mentoring new graduates; in advocacy for landscape and landscape architecture in the media and public fora; in professional development of landscape architects through conferences and publications; and last but not least in his own practice which has creatively and inclusively nutured local landscapes and their communities across NZ, and particularly in Hawkes Bay.

Throughout this all, Alan has been supported by his wife, Heather. As a devoted partnership, the bestowing of this award also recognises the unstinting contribution Heather has also made to the profession.