Examining public participation in New Zealand and the implications for resource management decisions and outcomes

Dr Ronlyn Duncan1

1Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research, Lincoln, New Zealand


Recognising publics are made and emergent, understanding how they are made and factors that shape their creation are important areas for research. This paper presents research that examines how New Zealand’s resource management legislation is shaping conceptions of the public and participation to understand the implications for resource management decision-making and outcomes.  Drawing on interviews with planners in New Zealand working at both district and regional levels of local government – and operating at different points along the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) spectrum – the research identifies a hierarchy of who is involved in participatory planning processes, when and why. This paper will discuss this hierarchy, the importance of pre-statutory participatory processes and their increasing political importance (e.g. to not only legitimise but also road-test), and the role different types of knowledge and learning could be playing in differentiating practices and creating spaces for participation across the IAP2 typology.


Ronlyn is an interdisciplinary scholar with degrees in both the ecological and social sciences.  She has a PhD in Environmental Studies from the University of Tasmania.  Ronlyn is currently working as an Environmental Social Science Researcher at Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research in New Zealand.  Her current research examines the social, political and cultural dimensions of science and other knowledges for policy and planning to understand the implications for policy implementation.  She is also using social practice theory to overcome pervasive knowledge deficit approaches to policy implementation.


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