Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Shaping More Sustainable Communities: a Case Study in Urban Water Management

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posted on 2021-11-10, 04:08 authored by Moore, Robyn

The motivation for this study was to consider how communities might take a more integrated and systematic approach to meeting the challenges of water management in New Zealand, and achieve more sustainable systems. The specific challenges facing a community pursuing sustainable urban water management objectives were examined and solutions sought and tested. Urban water systems, in particular, are under increasing pressure to meet the expectations of communities, with water managers required to articulate sensible management initiatives that secure water supplies and protect water for its intended use, now and in the future. Despite policy and regulation intended to advance outcomes and integrate efforts within the complex area of urban water management, fragmented approaches persist, while a pattern of decline in the quality of New Zealand's water resources remains a cause for concern. Nearly half of urban rates collected in New Zealand apply to water and wastewater management. Thus, this study is concerned with understanding the critical constraints to achieving healthier, more sustainable urban water systems that are affordable for New Zealand communities. The thesis demonstrates the methodology by focusing on Kapiti, a settlement north of Wellington, which has been debating and responding to water quality and security issues for more than a decade. Subsequent to a piloted investigation, a methodological framework was proposed, based on integrating three near complementary perspectives. The Theory of Constraints (TOC) was used with a Stakeholder Typology to identify system stakeholders, capturing and representing their perspectives with Intermediate Objective (IO), Current Reality Tree (CRT) and Prerequisite Trees (PRT), while Causal Loop Diagrams (CLDs) from Systems Dynamics were constructed with some participants to explore and circumvent potential negative outcomes. The combined framework provided a source of deep insights into the challenges, dilemmas, potential solutions and side effects facing resource managers and other stakeholders in an urban water system under pressure from population growth and climatic/topographical conditions. It is possible that the combined theoretical framework can be applied to other resource management cases. The use of the Stakeholder Typology to complement TOC provided a tactical element not routinely evident in systems studies, valuing the experiential and historical perspectives of those who might otherwise be treated as being outside the system, their perspectives marginalised or ignored. The TOC framework offered a logic-based means to identify and invalidate a critical assumption that peak demand would reduce to a level predicted by system managers. Further, the TOC tools were used to focus on and agree the set of conditions necessary to deal with the demand constraint and meet the system goal agreed by the stakeholder participants.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Management Studies

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Management Studies

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

Victoria Management School


Corbett, Lawrie; Mabin, Vicky