Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Kāpiti Marine Reserve 30 years on: connections, practices, and management

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posted on 2024-01-23, 08:56 authored by Stephanie Brenssell

Established in 1992, Kāpiti Marine Reserve (KMR), was the fourth marine reserve to be established in Aotearoa New Zealand. Located near the southern end of the North Island’s west coast, this no-take reserve presents a significant addition to marine reserves in Aotearoa. The biological status of the reserve is relatively well studied, however, like many reserves in Aotearoa its social history is poorly understood. Although place attachment is a widely researched concept for people-place relationships, there is a lack of research about place attachment in relation to ocean spaces in general, and marine reserves in particular. As people have a variety of relationships with ocean spaces, it is important to understand these in relation to marine reserves. This research therefore investigates how the existence of KMR over the past 30 years has reinforced or changed people’s attitudes and attachment to the reserve. To trace the social history of the reserve, this research combines analysis of statutory public submissions from the 1990/1991 Department of Conservation KMR proposal with interviews of 12 people who have had a long-standing connection with the reserve. This research reveals the diverse values and connections submitters to the KMR proposal and interview participants have with the marine space around Kāpiti Island. In addition, this research highlights how interviewees experiences and practices with KMR can influence their attitudes and connections to the reserve over time and vice versa. The link between interviewees relationships to, and experiences with, KMR associated with the Department of Conservation’s shift away from managing the reserve, reveals the tensions and different views on management that can arise over time.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Science

ANZSRC Socio-Economic Outcome code

180507 Rehabilitation or conservation of marine environments

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

1 Pure basic research

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences


Stupples, Polly; Blue, Brendon