AbstractsGeography &GIS

An Analysis of Media Representations of the Luxury in and of Second Home Ownership in New Zealand 1936-2012

by Trudie Lee Walters

Institution: University of Otago
Year: 0
Keywords: second homes; luxury; New Zealand; media; representations; thematic analysis
Record ID: 1301491
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10523/4974


During the last twenty years, the mainstream popular media in New Zealand has conceptualised and portrayed a supposedly new phenomenon; the so-called ‘luxury second home’. Such second homes are generally architecturally designed, on prime sites in high amenity areas, and are expensive and expansive, particularly in relation to the homes of the permanent residents. During this time there has been a corresponding rise in the representation of older, traditional second homes as symbols of an egalitarian society and as such lacking in luxury. It seems that in the past anyone could own a second home in New Zealand, and did – unlike most other Western countries where only the wealthy could afford to participate in second home ownership. The New Zealand second home context therefore provides a useful case study for a critical longitudinal analysis of media representations of luxury. This thesis is premised on the existence of an alternative discourse of luxury that has until now been largely ignored or gone unrecognised in both the popular media and the academic literature, both in New Zealand and overseas. As such, the research centres on a thematic analysis of second home articles in Home New Zealand magazine since its inception in 1936 and covers a period of 76 years. This magazine was the first architecture and lifestyle magazine to be produced in New Zealand for a New Zealand audience that was/is highly educated and affluent and is thus differentiated from the general readership of mainstream media. This thesis provides important insights into representations of luxury in the context of second home culture in New Zealand. It highlights not only the contested understanding of luxury but also the temporal nature of luxury, and significantly finds that there was (and still is) luxury both in and of second homes in New Zealand. The ownership of a second home has always been a luxury not only due to the cost (both the initial outlay and ongoing costs of ownership) but also for what it affords the owner (a place of sanctuary and restoration) and for what it represents (a place built with the purpose of leisure in mind). The physical location of second homes featured in the magazine suggests that the site and the view function as symbols of the luxury of the second home. Furthermore, this thesis claims that the ‘luxury’ second home is not in fact a new phenomenon. The architect designed second home with its markers of luxury has existed since at least the late 1930s and has merely been unrepresented in the popular media and academic literature alike until recently. By critically examining these various elements of the luxury in and of the second home as identified in the magazine discourse, this thesis challenges widely-held popular mythologies of second home culture in New Zealand. This thesis focuses on media representations of luxury in New Zealand, but importantly it has wider relevance beyond geographical borders. Studying how luxury is represented provides an avenue into the inner workings and values…