My thesis examines planning policy relating to deprived communities in Aotearoa/New Zealand. In particular, I am interested in the way planning discourse can function to reproduce inequalities. My methodology involves using literary theory to examine planning documents. My other interests include planning for climate change mitigation, insurgent planning and the Transition Towns movement
Since the mid-1980s, income inequality in Aotearoa/New Zealand has increased more sharply than in any other OECD country (St John and Wynd 2008, 14). From a rate well below the OECD average in the early 1980s, Aotearoa/New Zealand’s level of inequality has risen to become one of the highest in the OECD (OECD 2008b). Income inequality has been identified in recent research as a key determinant of a range of negative social outcomes, including poor health and reduced life expectancy, lack of social cohesion, and increased crime (Kawachi and Kennedy 2002; Wilkinson 2005; Wilkinson and Pickett 2007, 2010).
As is the case in many countries, socioeconomic inequality in Aotearoa/New Zealand is highly spatialised: extremes of wealth and poverty tend to be concentrated in specific localities. This thesis is concerned with how planning, as a field that seeks to regulate and ameliorate our living environment, responds to these stark disparities; in particular, my interest is in how inequality is discursively framed, and what plans or policies are employed to address it.
Internationally there has been a recent resurgence of interest in the role of planning in relation to social justice. A significant discourse has been established, in which different models of justice, the potential ways for planning to intervene, and the legitimacy of such interventions are hotly contested. The object of this thesis is to document and analyse the discourses through which planning policy in Aotearoa/New Zealand currently responds to socioeconomic inequality, using the international literature to develop a framework for policy critique.