Harnessing the hinterland | Mana Whenua Building Vibrant Communities | Oamaru - Supporting Success in Regional Settlements | Regenerating for Success | Supporting Sucess in Regional Settlements
Regional settlements in New Zealand are variably successful. There is local and central government drive to support regional settlement regeneration, and this needs to be underpinned by strong science. Regeneration includes property-led development, cultural and built heritage revitalisation, ecological restoration, business social entrepreneurship and community ventures.
So this programme will develop a model of the system of regional settlements and their linkages to cities and rural activity. Such a model will identify connections to improve urban environments.
It will also develop a knowledge platform based on regeneration in practice, to support Māori regeneration activities in regional settlements. Such a platform will improve urban environments.
Another feature will be an inventory of regeneration approaches, including assessment methodologies. It will also develop a community of practice involving researchers, key stakeholders and users, sharing information about how to create prosperous, liveable, healthy and sustainable (environmentally, socially and economically) regional settlements. This will increase the likely uptake of innovation.
Thriving Regions Research Projects
This project has a number of strands that focus on examining what makes some settlements more or less successful than others, and what impacts this has on the development of those towns (including population and jobs growth). Key issues that the researchers examine include the importance of business-related (productive) amenities and personal-related (consumption) amenities in guiding settlements' success. Individual settlements are interpreted within a system of settlements, so we also examine the linkages between settlements that may be important in guiding the success of certain settlements.
The published papers for this project highlight the importance of natural capital and other factors that underlie the value people place on towns and on houses within towns. Consistent with international literature, people appear to be valuing natural amenity factors more highly as average incomes increase. The researchers find that dwellings are more highly valued if they receive more sunlight. This result has important planning implications as cities increasingly look to intensify with the consequent danger of crowding out sunshine for other dwellings. The results also emphasise the importance of towns making the most of the natural features that they have. However, the researchers find a difference between the value that domestic residents and international migrants place on various types of amenity. Domestic residents (aged 25-59) value lifestyle ("quality of life") amenities more highly than do international migrants (on average), whereas the latter value productive ("quality of business") amenities more highly. The results have important implications for planning and investment decisions of local councils. These decisions affect not only the quantity and type of jobs in their location but also the quantity and type of resident (e.g. skilled vs unskilled; tertiary educated versus non-tertiary educated; domestic versus international) who wish to live in each place.
Arthur Grimes, Dave Maré, Kate Preston, Stuart Donovan
Amenities and the attractiveness of New Zealand cities. Photo: Nicolas J LeClercq - Unsplash.
This research is a place-based study that seeks a systems understanding, from a mana whenua perspective, of what makes vibrant and regenerative tier-two settlements. The project is the northern component of Supporting Success in Regional Settlements and focuses on three settlements in the ‘Golden Triangle’ – Pōkeno, Huntly and Ōpōtiki. The research focuses on the structural changes/trajectories occurring in these three communities; understanding the types of physical and social (including health, education) infrastructure contribute to vibrant communities; how mana whenua aspirations could shape the development of a vibrant community; and how these factors could be modelled to enhance mana whenua in tier-two communities and small towns.
The project has developed an exploratory indicator framework to measure community wellbeing and regeneration from an integrated mainstream and Māori perspective. The frame provides insight into the wellbeing in the three places of study and these findings closely aligned with the feedback from communities about the wellbeing of their towns. The study found a strong desire for investment in cultural, human, and social capitals. The research pointed to holistic community regeneration and integrated sense of wellbeing. It highlighted political, regulatory, and planning barriers to mana whenua aspirations for development. Local hapū and iwi spoke to designing and building towns that acknowledged and incorporated mana whenua connection to place. In general, mana whenua desired marae and papakāinga development as community hubs.
The research has resulted in reports directly to the mana whenua groups (iwi and hapū) in these towns to provide pathways to progress their development aspirations in these towns. These were also disseminated to key stakeholders to enable further discussions amongst key players in the advancement and realisation of these goals.
Jonathan Kilgour, Polly Atatoa-Carr, Moana Rarere, Maui Hudson, Thalia Ullrich, John Ryks, James Whetu, Jesse Whitehead, Lynley Uerata
Church Street, Ōpōtiki. Photo: Ulrich Lange - CC BY-SA 3.0
This project is generating a new knowledge platform that will support, strengthen and advance settlement regeneration practice. The researchers examine how settlements and their people manage to renew themselves under challenging circumstances, and what drives success in regeneration projects. The researchers are working with stakeholders in two districts: Ashburton and Timaru.
There is a considerable level of commitment from public and private sector agencies and individuals to the development of local second-tier settlement regeneration initiatives. Despite a wide-spread view that some regional settlements are depressed and in trouble, the findings point to a much more positive situation, but also a group of challenges associated with limited financial resources and specialist expertise across a range of skill-sets. With respect to the built environment – whether to do with heritage buildings, adaptive re-use of former industrial sites, big-box retailing, the potential impacts of e-retailing, over-extended town centres, seismic retrofitting, the provision of public infrastructure (from public toilets, to new cultural and sporting facilities and spaces, and retirement homes) and the building of new commercial buildings – there are major issues facing second-tier settlements associated with finance, skills levels, and capacity to work strategically. There is no shortage of local commitment. The researchers have discovered very strong connections between regional settlements and their rural hinterlands, including small rural towns (for example, Geraldine in the Timaru District) and so a focus on settlement regeneration requires some considerable attention to the myriad activities occurring there. This has brought the researchers into touch, for example, with the growing and diversifying rural- and agri-tourism sectors, commercial outdoor recreation, the importance of irrigated agriculture, and food manufacturing, and a set of emerging issues associated with disruptive technologies such AirBnB and their effects on regional housing provision.
Michael Mackay, Deborah Levy, Harvey Perkins, Malcolm Campbell
This project is generating new knowledge that will support and advance urban regeneration practice in 2nd tier settlements in New Zealand. The research will elaborate and learn from an urban regeneration project in Oamaru (Waitaki District), combining elements of town centre revitalisation, the adaptive re-purposing of historic buildings, and the creation of a variety of new and attractive urban spaces (including a major investment in the Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail). These regeneration activities have also provided the impetus for new businesses to develop in the town and its surrounding rural settlements.
An important preliminary finding/highlight from work with local stakeholders is the importance of integration across the strategies and plans, especially when dealing with a large number of regeneration projects. The Council plays an important part in this integration along with community leaders and private investors. Formal plans are also important because they confirm the Treaty partnership with Māori, who have a long cultural, environmental, and economic interest in the Waitaki valley and coastline and are potential investors in new developments such as visitor facilities. The research suggests that the multi-faceted approach identified in Oamaru is likely to bring further success in the long term. In particular there are four key aspects that work together: retail growth and hospitality; housing and residential growth aiming for repopulation and suitable for a greater number of older residents; growth of the rural-service centres and rural processing; and the provision of further visitor attractions, accommodation, and services in an integrated package. The work also shows that planners must address the inexorability of demography. This includes the need to plan for cycles of decline (and growth!) evident in resource communities and changes in demographics such as an ageing population, and an increasing cultural diversity in the population.
Michael Mackay, Harvey Perkins, Nick Taylor, Karen Johnston
This proposed study is driven by the identified need to focus academic and policy attention of one of the most neglected dimensions of New Zealand society and economy — namely the rural areas and the small towns within them. These places form the backbone of the export economy and are home to some 22% of the national population, yet there is a poor understanding of how these places differ, the challenges which they face, whether they are able to regenerate and respond to social and economic change and the specific needs of key, often marginalised groups — i.e. women and Mäori. Media attention has dramatized the fate of so-called 'zombie' towns and the seemingly bleak future of rural
27 July 2018: To see a powerpoint presentation about the Harnessing the Hinterland project presented to the New Zealand Geographical Society conference, click below.
Etienne Nel, Ann Pomeroy, Sean Connelly, Michelle Thompson-Fawcett