Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Making a House a Home: Motivations for Earthquake Strengthening Domestic Homes in Dunedin, an Argument Towards Domestic Heritage

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Version 2 2023-03-10, 00:53
Version 1 2021-11-16, 00:40
posted on 2023-03-10, 00:53 authored by Stockwell, Imogen

Following the 2010 and 2011 Canterbury earthquakes, earthquake strengthening is one of the biggest issues facing heritage buildings in New Zealand. This process is mainly affecting commercial and public buildings; residential buildings are generally exempt from earthquake-prone building policies. However, some homeowners are choosing to do what is often perceived to be an expensive and time-consuming process. This research explores whether there is a heritage relationship between the homeowner and their house that motivates conservation work, such as earthquake strengthening. The central question for this research is: “What makes a heritage house a home? Is “home” a motivation for owners to earthquake strengthen their building? a case study of Dunedin”.  The relationship between homeowners and the heritage of their homes and domestic conservations practices has been underexamined in heritage studies in New Zealand. The current dissertation addresses this problem and contributes to the literature of Museum and Heritage Studies. The theoretical framework employed in this research draws on the field of Critical Heritage Studies in order to explore the relationship between ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up heritage’, the notion of ‘peoples-based’ heritage, the value of intangible heritage and a cycle of care. This research utilised qualitative research methods, involving the interviewing three heritage homeowners and two heritage professionals. These provided detailed findings about homeowners’ perceptions of their houses and the interaction between heritage practitioners and homeowners. The southern city of Dunedin was the case study which framed this research, because it has a rich collection of heritage buildings and a council which has been proactive in encouraging earthquake strengthening.  It was found that the heritage homeowner’s relationship with their home played a role in conservation how decisions are undertaken and that there is a lack of outreach from heritage authorities to heritage homeowners. This research provides information about the nature of the interaction between top-down and bottom-up heritage, and how this relationship can lead to positive heritage outcomes. Recommendations include developing open channels of communication between officials and homeowners, increased acknowledgement of the homeowner’s role in the conservation practice, and the establishment of a concept of Domestic Heritage to assist within the development of a cycle of care by heritage homeowners.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Museum and Heritage Studies

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Museum and Heritage Studies

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Art History, Classics and Religious Studies


McCarthy, Conal; Smith, Moira