AbstractsLaw & Legal Studies

Tackling Freshwater Decision Making Through a Catchment Wide Collaborative Approach : An Evaluation of the Manuherikia Catchment Decision Making Process

by Erin Stagg

Institution: University of Otago
Year: 0
Keywords: Collaborative; Planning; Freshwater; Allocation
Record ID: 1301435
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10523/5663


Balancing the demands and values attributed to complex and integrated freshwater systems can often be contentious and challenging. Collaborative planning has gained international support as a potential solution for balancing multifarious values and including those disparate interests in decision making. In New Zealand, the Land and Water Forum has also recommended that difficult freshwater allocation decisions be made through collaboration. As a result several catchments throughout New Zealand have pursued collaborative planning models in order to make decisions regarding freshwater allocation. The study aims to evaluate the collaborative process occurring within Central Otago’s Manuherikia Catchment. The Manuherikia Catchment Group process was examined to determine the extent to which collaboration was equitable, just and engaging, and whether consensus was sought through group discourse and deliberation. It was also used as a case study through which collaboration could be evaluated as a decision making mechanism. The analysis of the results showed that while the process designers had sought to include divergent and diverse voices in the decision making process, some weaker aspects of the process have resulted in certain groups feeling marginalised. Strengths of the process included the dissemination of information, the creation of social capital, and the consensus seeking process. Weaknesses included that power dynamics, process designer expectations and tight time frames resulted in some views not being equally heard. Given these results, future collaborative freshwater planning efforts should endeavour to address these weaknesses in order to facilitate more robust and equitable processes. Overall the research findings indicate that collaborative planning processes are desirable solution finding and decision making tool so long as all interests groups are willing and able to participate as equals.