The imperative for agricultural production within the rural landscape of Aotearoa New Zealand values landscape in terms of efficiency and functionality. By contrast, landscapes of memory are imbued with intangible values. The location of the oldest European cemetery on the Canterbury Plains in Aotearoa New Zealand in the middle of Ashley Dene Farm places these two value sets in contrast. Originally established by the same landowner in the mid-nineteenth century, the farm and the cemetery were, at first, part of a rural setting that attempted to echo those in the colonists’ homeland of England and included a chapel, vicarage and glebe. Since then, the farm and the cemetery have fallen under different governance, and have moved at different speeds through time, creating a disconnection between heritage preservation and advancing agricultural production within the same landscape.

Two concepts – one ethical and one aesthetic – have potential for navigating disconnections between landscape values. First, the concept of guardianship is introduced as a frame for approaching the ongoing conception of the cemetery as a heritage landscape. Second, well-managed farms are characterised by an aesthetics of tidiness, while the abandoned cemetery has taken on the appearance of neglect. This contrasting aesthetic is paralleled by that in landscape ecology, where ecologically-rich landscapes can be misinterpreted as messy and uncared for. “Cues to care” is a theory where “orderly frames” such as fences and verges are used to signal the intentionality of the apparent messiness (Nassauer, 1995). The authors propose that this concept has potential for application in the heritage landscape settings such as the cemetery at Ashley Dene Farm.