The role of land-use planning in reducing the vulnerability of the Bay of Plenty region to natural hazards : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Resource and Environmental Planning at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
This thesis analyses policies and plans used by local authorities in New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty region to determine how well they address vulnerability to natural hazards. Interviews were conducted with planners, decision-makers and community leaders to find improvements necessary to reduce vulnerability. The Bay of Plenty was chosen as a case study due to the wide range and close proximity of natural hazards the region is exposed to. Following a literature review, policies, plans and interview data was coded, arranged into themes and findings written up. This research found that New Zealand has robust legislation that provide planners, decision-makers and individuals with the foundation and tools to avoid or mitigate hazard risk. However, the lack of use of the term vulnerability needs to be addressed. The ‘existing use’ rights conundrum presented by the Resource Management Act (1991) presents a challenge to meaningful locational decisions to reduce exposure. The absence of specifically addressing vulnerability in legislation filters down to Bay of Plenty policies and plans; it is difficult to plan for vulnerability reduction if there is no focus on it. The interviews found that access to financial resources and strong social ties are key determinants of vulnerability. However there were also a number of seemingly contradictory sources of vulnerability such as a greater vulnerability of wealthy and urban communities relative to poor or rural communities. This underlines how difficult it is to plan for complex social problems. The obvious implication of this research is that vulnerability is a complex and diverse problem that is not mitigated by placing people into broad categories divorced from the sum of their circumstances.
Land-use planning, vulnerability, resilience, risk, advocacy planning, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand