Within ‘Vernacular’, one of the most arresting spaces that we encountered (almost by accident) was the amazing amphitheatre-like space called ‘The Gully’ at New Plymouth Boys’ High School (NPBHS). My two employees at O2 Landscapes are both highly-skilled landscape architecture graduates (both having completed Masters in Landscape Architecture), and both contributed to the book through the provision of sketches (as well as feedback on various ideas). One of them, James Fischer, attended NPBHS, and offers these reflections on the significance of ‘The Gully’ in the life of the school :
“As a landscape architect reflecting on my old stomping ground, I find it interesting to think of the gully as a piece of land art with outstanding character. To me it will always be the place where we catapulted oranges at ‘day boys’ (boys who went to NPBHS that didn’t stay in the hostel) from one side of the gully to the other. It will always be the place we did hakas to motivate the 1st 15 against our rival schools. It will always be the route we took to sneak out of the hostel after lights out. It lies at the heart of the school and is very much a part of every boy’s experience at NPBHS.
The Gully was primarily used for rugby matches (particularly the first fifteen home games), and it’s basically an amphitheatre. During Super 8 home games the entire school would perform hakas from the terraces to amp up the 1st 15 (the sound of which would echo through the whole school).
It was an unsanctioned rule/tradition (over a decade ago) within the hostel that any ‘day boys’ who were caught jumping down the terraces were discretely punished in a manor befitting the offense. At the time it seemed like another way to isolate the two factions of the school. But one of the true reasons was undoubtedly the preservation of the school’s valued asset, 'The Gully' – as jumping between the terraces could deteriorate the cut earth banks (some clothed in pongas; others not).”