Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Diversifying Density - Renovating Rural Living within Kapiti/Horowhenua Coast

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posted on 2021-11-15, 11:30 authored by Wheaton, Nicholas

‘Diversifying Density’ explores current issues surrounding New Zealand’s struggling rural regions with particular focus on the test region of Kāpiti/Horowhenua Coast. These rural regions are subject to pressure from cities with regard to economic production and a cultural shift toward urban lifestyle. This has contributed to deconstructing much of what originally made these regions so attractive to live in. Through the process of revitalisation this research looks at the specific test site of Lake Horowhenua. While there is no shortage to these rural challenges, Lake Horowhenua has managed to retain particular significance within the overall region of Kāpiti/Horowhenua Coast.  The focus area of this research is to explore a diverse hybrid settlement for a specific area based around a potential economy. On developing this, the design explores how this can provide new habitation while working towards a better environmental system and occupancy potential.  This research looks to encouraging discussion about conservation by adding further economic opportunity, the displacement of some current practices with the benefit of economic, environmental, and spatial diversities. Pulling these elements together the thesis proposes that this generates further opportunity, to increase human occupancy, formulating a perception and involvement within this rural landscape. Reconfiguring rural economies, lifestyles, recreation and conservation encourages authenticity of rural landscapes, creating new experiences and opportunities building the notion of abundance.  The research being tested in detail is the harakeke (flax) economy. It is structured around the processing stages involving the extraction of the harakeke fibre. Developing this concept through one economy generates new opportunities for habitation, while facilitating alternative growth specific to the site and economy. This informs design moves that are directed specifically toward the economic and environmental diversity drivers connected to the site for growth encouragement.  Then begins the exploration of concepts of authenticity; new rural living patterns; interdependencies of economies; environment and spatial patterns; and developing a synergy between work and living to construct community.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Landscape Architecture

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Landscape Architecture

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


Allan, Penny; Bryant, Martin