Conflict between intergenerational family farmers and environmental planning processes : an “economic versus environment” proposition or different ways of knowing? (2020)
Type of ContentTheses / Dissertations
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
PublisherUniversity of Canterbury
AuthorsWeastell, Lyndashow all
Since European settlement, farming has shaped New Zealand economically, socially and environmentally, often in commodity ‘boom and bust’ cycles with significant environmental impacts. Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Dr Jan Wright (2013, p.7) describes New Zealand’s current dairy boom as “a classic economic versus the environment dilemma.” But this image of farming as an ‘economic versus environment’ proposition does not accord with my knowledge of non- indigenous intergenerational family farming in Canterbury, New Zealand, nor with the place- attachment relationships of non-indigenous intergenerational family farmers documented in some social science literature. From the early 1970s, Transactive Planning Theory was premised on an understanding that conflict between planners and clients (people-in-place) is the product of different epistemologies or ways of knowing. More recently, Indigenous Planning literature suggests conflict in planning or resource management can reflect deeper ontological schisms between people or differences in worldviews. However, such explanations lead to a second question: if conflict between planners and resource users is grounded in epistemological or more significant ontological differences, how can they be reconciled?
This research explores whether conflict between non-indigenous intergenerational family farmers and environmental planning processes in Canterbury, New Zealand is an ‘economic versus environment’ proposition or conflict between alternative environmental management systems underpinned by different ways of knowing. Also it explores whether and how such conflict can be recognised and reconciled. There is, of course, an intergenerational attachment to land in Canterbury much older than that of non-indigenous intergenerational family farmers; being that of Ngāi Tahu whānui. This study is not, in any way, an attempt to silence that relationship nor to argue that the research cohort has a place-attachment relationship akin to indigeneity. Rather, it is to explore and articulate non-indigenous intergenerational family farming culture in its own terms, and to explore conflict between that cultural knowledge and environmental planning processes.
Researching within a critical hermeneutic framework using enactive research, oral narratives of the farming life-stories of 52 intergenerational family farmers were created. These oral narratives and a further 30 written narratives are critically analysed to interpret and articulate non-indigenous intergenerational family farming culture and associated environmental management systems. In addition, the experiences of the 52 farming families with environmental planning processes for managing conservation sites on-farm and the effects of farming activities on freshwater in Canterbury are analysed in two case studies. As part of those case studies, participants were asked how they would address those issues if they could ‘hold the planner’s pen.’
This thesis argues for multiple ways of knowing and practicing farming in Canterbury of which non- indigenous intergenerational family farming is one form, with distinctive characteristics, motivators and ethics. Secondly, it argues that non-indigenous intergenerational family farming knowledge is embedded: it is cultural knowledge of place which is motivated by and adaptive to environmental issues. Thirdly, it argues that conflict between non-indigenous intergenerational family farmers and environmental planning processes in Canterbury is not usually an ‘economic versus environment’ proposition but is grounded in different ways of knowing farming and environmental management. Those differences are largely epistemological but are becoming irreconcilable because the contemporary environmental planning process in New Zealand is losing awareness of its ideological foundations in Neo-liberalist and Rational Planning Theories. This study argues for reconfiguration of the planning process using a Place-attachment Planning Model with intergenerational people-in-place and their place-specific, experiential knowledge at its core, supported rather than supplanted by Western science and planning paradigms.