Resource Community Formation and Change
(FRST Research Project TBAX0001)

Details of Project:

Reseach Leader:
Dr Nick Taylor
Research Team:
Wayne McClintock, James Baines, Gerard Fitzgerald, Julie Warren, Colin Goodrich, Heather McCrostie Little
  • Provide data and develop a model of community formation and change in rural New Zealand.
  • Assist planning for sustainable resource use, regional economic and social development, the provision of social services and building of stronger communities.
  • Identity and describe the changing nature of work in natural resource based production and processing industries.
  • Determine changes in the ownership and sustainability of businesses involved in production and processing of natural resources.

The research in 1998-2000 covered the social and economic characteristics of communities based on energy, fishing and tourism resources, adding to information collected previously (1996-8) on forestry, mining and agriculture-based communities.

The research has analysed wider social-economic trends in the six sectors with working papers produced on each. Ten communities were selected from each sector and short profiles of them produced using secondary data sources, and compiled two working papers. A comparative statistical analysis was conducted on 175 communities from all six resource sectors on the basis of the proportion of people employed in the sector workforces. Detailed case studies were carried out on three communities per sector.

The research is reported in several papers including:

Resource community formation and change in New Zealand.

The value of longitudinal research as a basis for subsequent social impact assessment.

Retreat from the frontier: fishing communities in New Zealand.

Social and Economic Impacts Associated with Irrigated Land Use Change.

Business ownership in natural resource dependent industries of New Zealand.

The impacts of resource sector restructuring on occupational and community identity.

Reports on the community case studies are available below.

Res Com Phase I Res Com Phase II
WP 6 Kawerau WP21 Manapouri
WP 7 Murupara WP22 Twizel
WP 8 Tuatapere WP23 Opunake
WP 9 Waihi WP24 Riverton
WP 10 Runanga WP25 Moeraki
WP 11 Ohai WP26 Havelock
WP 12 Katikati WP27 Te Anau
WP 13 Clandeboye WP28 Methven
WP 14 Waitaki Plains WP29 Paihia
WP 15 Otautau

Further working papers examine:

The nature of work in natural resource dependent industries - WP 30

Business ownership in natural resource dependent industries - WP 31.

Overseas ownership and business types in the natural resource dependent industries of New Zealand: an analysis of business demographic statistics - WP 32

Social Assessment of Land Use Change Under Irrigation - WP 33

The Waitaki Valley: Its people and resources as depicted in 40 years of applied and academic social science - WP 34

Principal Findings:

The research identifies substantial change over the last 20 years. Populations generally have fallen, with losses of key community people.

Changes in technology and the organisation of work, including subcontracting and shift work, have increased labour productivity while reducing employment. Substantial industry restructuring has added to job losses, coinciding with restructuring and centralisation in social services and other sectors. Low cost housing has attracted newcomers, often characterised by low social-economic status, higher proportions of Maori, more social and cultural diversity, and reduced community cohesion.

Communities are also less clearly defined spatially. The research has strengthened the model of resource cycles in communities, adding an understanding of the interconnections between sectors at sub-regional levels, showing few rural communities are dependent on a single resource sector. The work provides a stronger conceptual and empirical basis for social assessment and resource planning, especially in communities that depend on the primary production or processing of natural resources.

External Papers:

Nick Taylor, Colin Goodrich, Gerard Fitzgerald and Wayne McClintock (2003). Undertaking longitudinal research. Chapter 2 in Henk Becker and Frank Vanclay (Eds), Handbook of Social Impact Assessment, Conceptual and Methodological Advances, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

McCrostie Little, H and Nick Taylor (2001). Social and economic impacts associated with irrigated land use change. Proceedings of the Seventh Annual Conference of the New Zealand Agricultural and Resource Economics Society (Inc.), Blenheim, July, AERU Discussion paper No. 148, Lincoln University, Canterbury.

McCrostie Little, Heather and Nick Taylor (2001). Farming people and rural society. Chapter 8 in Garth Cant and Russell Kirkpatrick (eds), Rural Canterbury - Celebrating its History, Daphne Brassell Associates Ltd and Lincoln University Press.

McClintock, Wayne, Gerard Fitzgerald and Nick Taylor (2001). Mining Communities in New Zealand, New Zealand Mining, 29: 44-50.

Nick Taylor, Gerard Fitzgerald and Wayne McClintock (2001). Resource communities in New Zealand: perspectives on community formation and change. In Geoffrey Lawrence, Vaughan Higgins and Stewart Lockie (eds), Environment, Society and Natural Resource Management, Theoretical Perspectives from Australasia and the Americas, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, UK.

Wayne McClintock, James Baines and Nick Taylor (2000). Fishing Communities and the Boom-bust Cycle, Seafood New Zealand, 8 (11): 26-27.

Wayne L. McClintock and C. Nicholas Taylor (1999). Forestry communities in transition. NZ Journal of Forestry, 44,1:29-34.

Small Towns Press Release