Waitara : a sense of place in 1998 : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Resource and Environmental Planning at Massey University

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Massey University
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This study investigates and describes "senses of place" as experienced by 13 long- term Pakeha residents of Waitara in 1998. The town of Waitara is located on the West Coast of the North Island in New Zealand, and at the 1996 census had a population of 6,507 people. On 15 December 1997, the town's main employer, the AFFCO freezing works plant, was closed. The effect of this closure on the town of Waitara has been devastating. The town has gone from a 'working town' to one in which the majority of its working age population are now' dependent on State support as their primary source of income. The primary objective of this study is to examine how sense of place is affected by economic restructuring. This study uses a combination of secondary quantitative analysis, to situate Waitara within the broad patterns of global and national restructuring, and in-depth interviews to describe 13 individual experiences. This research documents that economic restructuring does indeed change places. The closure of the freezing works plant has left the town marginalised and disconnected from national and global economies. But more importantly the findings of this study support Massey's (1994) assertion that there is no universal sense of place. The identity of places, and therefore our 'senses of place', are constructed through our contact with the outside world. Consequently, an individual's sense of place is unfixed, contested and multiple and changes in response to processes occurring on a local, national and global scale. Finally, this study challenges planners to incorporate local knowledge into planning processes. To focus on a more people-centred style of planning, where the community is empowered to take a more direct role in local decision-making processes.
City planning, Geographical perception, New Zealand, Waitara (N.Z.) -- Economic conditions, 1990-, New Plymouth District