Waitangi Park: Public Land in Competition
This thesis looks at Wellington's Waitangi Park, through the specifics of the Chaffers Park Design Competition, in order to explore the repercussions mistrust can have on social vision and political response. In examining aspects of this competition over a piece of public land, and comparing various accounts of events leading up to it, an interpretative impasse is reached that factual explanations alone cannot minimise. Because the search for truth proves elusive, other forms of evidence must be relied upon as sources of knowledge. In this instance, an analysis of experiences demonstrates the effect differing expectations has on human interaction, ones that are shown to have a significant impact on placemaking processes and organizational structures. When debates over public land degenerate into power struggles, the issue of control is brought to the forefront of attention. It raises questions concerning who owns public land, whether it properly belongs to local authorities or the public itself. Who gets to designate how these spaces are used, and select what ought and ought not to go on these sites? Here, the issue of representation is troublesome because so many different groups claim to speak for the public's interest, leaving the reader wondering whose interpretation to believe and place trust in. Where the perception is that democratic rights are being undermined, then doubt in the principles underpinning consultation processes soon emerges. And once mistrust becomes entrenched, organizational tinkering is not sufficient in itself to reverse a negative state of affairs; only joint satisfaction will do. But if satisfaction proves unforthcoming, then a withdrawal from engagement can be anticipated as committed individuals quit the field in disillusionment. This in turn causes a narrowing of vision and leads to uncreative political responses traits associated with acts of obliviousness.