Sense of Community in Aotearoa / New Zealand: How Different Ethnic Groups See Community Through Participatory Planning Processes
In the island nation of Aotearoa New Zealand, the history of migration and increased globalisation is exerting pressure on existing social and cultural frameworks and creating challenges and opportunities for how public open space can be created and used. This pressure is influencing the Indigenous groups, such as Māori, through a combination of cultural beliefs and values, with a diverse set of contemporary cultural practices and through interactions with a non-Māori world. The challenges are from the progressively widespread nature of migrants who have multiple national backgrounds and consider themselves as both members of their country of origin and New Zealand society.
To accommodate this increasing cultural diversity, a psychological sense of community provides a valuable tool for understanding community and community change, while participatory planning can provide opportunities to integrate public perspectives into these processes. Then focusing on public open spaces present a chance to help create socially sustainable places and promote the values of cultural diversity. This research aims to understand which community participation process in public open space planning will most effectively encourage a sense of community amongst the major ethnic groups in New Zealand, including New Zealand European, Māori, Chinese and Pasifika.
The first phase of the research, through an online survey, examines whether participating in the community participation processes in public open space planning can encourage sense of community amongst the targeted ethnic groups in this research. It does this by adopting the Sense of Community Index based on the theory presented by McMillan and Chavis. Results suggest that participatory planning allows the integration of public perspectives into the planning process, fostering the communities’ sense of place while creating places that promote cultural diversity in Aotearoa New Zealand.
The second phase of research with focus groups aims to explore and understand the differences and similarities concerning the effective community participation methods for targeting ethnic groups in this research. Results introduce the different series of effective participation methods concerning the specific ethnic group in the context of Aotearoa New Zealand.
Eventually, this research contributes to the gap in the existing literature that provides the opportunity and guidelines to more effectively engage with the potential participants for community participation projects in correspondence to the multicultural context of New Zealand.