This rich ethnography analyzes coastal protection as a sociomaterial practice. Coastal protection, Friederike Gesing argues, co-produces natural and cultural orders. In the context of the Aotearoa New Zealand coast, Working with Nature in Aotearoa New Zealand follows the emergence of a new sociotechnical imaginary: coastal management working "with nature" – and not against it. Analysis of a seawall controversy and different coastal protection projects shows how "soft" protection slowly takes hold. Dune restoration volunteers, coastal management experts, surfer-scientists, and Maori conservationists engage in different practices of making coastal nature-cultures: dune restoration as do-it-yourself erosion control, reconstructing native nature, or soft engineering in concert with natural processes.
Friederike Gesing is a cultural anthropologist of science, technology and nature, and co-founder of the Bremen NatureCultures Lab. She works at artec Sustainability Research Center, University of Bremen, Germany.