"The sleeping giant" : the East Coast 1945-1975 : regional problems and regional responses

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Massey University
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This thesis is an attempt to show the problems which have beset the East Coast region of the North Island,1 1 Delimited for the purposes of this thesis as Matakaoa, Waiapu, Uawa, Cook and Waikohu counties. and the effect a local group of concerned citizens, in a basically rural community, had in trying to locate and accomplish solutions. The East Coasters have, of necessity, built up a high degree of self sufficiency, but for decades various problems had become very obvious. The main themes are the long-term problems of the region, making it one for true pioneers. Isolation was a major factor, bringing with it inherent difficulties in transport and communications. It was clearly too distant from other regions to support the establishment of a large metropolitan centre. With early European settlement, problems involving Maori land tenure and land usage were brought to the surface. For a brief period there was even open racial strife with agitation from the Pai Marire movement followed by the uprising which led to the "Poverty Bay Massacre". Extensive bush clearing and neglect of land led to erosion difficulties. There was no potential for large scale industrial development, and unlike other regions there were no exploitable minerals, although repeated unsuccessful bores were sunk to find oil. Sheepfarming was the basis of the regional economy from earliest European settlement - an isolated, low labour intensive occupation. Therefore, apart from jobs directly related to this primary industry, employment opportunities were limited. The population of the region, after a spectacular growth spurt from the 1890s to the 1920s2 2 These were years of prosperity for the region, following them came a period of decline, and there was no real upsurge in progress until the 1960s., consistently failed to keep pace with the national growth rate, despite a high birthrate among the sizable Maori population. This was emphasised by an obvious population drift away from the rural areas from the 1920s on.
East Coast Development Research Association, Regional planning, East Coast economy, New Zealand, East coast region, North Island, New Zealand