Searching for community wellbeing: population, work and housing in the town of Oamaru

Nick Taylor; Mike Mackay; Katherine Russell

Abstract – Tuhinga Whakarāpopoto

Regional settlements experience great variation in social, cultural, environmental and economic change, and the capability and resources they have to manage change. In the Waitaki, the primary rural economy comprises agriculture, associated food processing industries, and the visitor sector. Over recent years, the demand for labour in these sectors has required an increasing workforce of overseas migrants, including a large population of Pacific Islanders. At the same time, the population has aged, so a large component of the population aged 65 years or over are not in the labour market. Both these changes create particular needs for housing and social services and the overall goal of enhanced social wellbeing. Migrants are particularly vulnerable to disadvantage in accessing housing due to their limited capital and limited knowledge of rights such as visa requirements and available support services. The provision of housing for very transient workers, including seasonal workers, is a particular issue. Responses to these issues through strategies and action plans are most successful when they are driven by the community and involve a range of stakeholders.

Other reports associated with this research

Campbell, M., Taylor, N. & Mackay, M. (2020). Waitaki short and long-term rental accommodation. Working paper 20-08b for Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities Thriving Regions, 14pgs. Christchurch: AgResearch/BBHTC.

Mackay, M., Taylor, N. & Perkins, H. (2018). Planning for regeneration in the town of Oamaru. Lincoln Planning Review, 9, 1-2 (2018), pgs 20-32.

Mackay, M. & Perkins, H. (2017). Supporting regional settlements, Build 160, June/July 2017, pp 66-67, BRANZ.

Articles associated with this research – Karere Tūhono

News: Searching for community wellbeing in Oamaru

5 October 2020: Regions around New Zealand are striving to create positive futures. To do so, the issues that need to be considered are wide and varying and include the future of work in rural areas and provincial towns, the supply of workers, demographic changes, and the supply of suitable housing and social services. >> Read More

Case study: Supporting regional settlements

15 August 2017: A national conversation is in progress about the strength and integrity of regional settlements in Aotearoa New Zealand. It is influenced by characterisations of small settlements as zombie towns and is framed by questions about how to reboot struggling regions. Driving the conversation is a set of mainly economic and demographic issues linked to quantitative evidence of declining and ageing populations and challenging economic circumstances. >> Read More

Keywords – Kupu Hāngai

Wellbeing; housing; population; work; Oamaru; Waitaki; collective wellbeing; economic recovery; community wellbeing

Fields of Research – Āpure Rangahau

Geography; Population Demographics; Regional Development; Sociology; Community Wellbeing


Date – Te Wā Whakarewa



Type – Te Auaha


Citation – Kupu Hautoa

Taylor, N., Mackay, M. & Russell, K. (2020). Searching for community wellbeing: population, work and housing in the town of Oamaru. Working paper 20-08a for Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities Thriving Regions, 36pgs. Christchurch: AgResearch/BBHTC.