The price we pay for land: The political economy of Pukekohe’s development | Intellect Skip to content
1981
New Scholarship in New Zealand and Pacific Studies Part 1
  • ISSN: 2050-4039
  • E-ISSN: 2050-4047

Abstract

Like many other rapidly growing urban centres across the world, Auckland City finds itself caught between the unending demand for land to accommodate new residential and commercial developments, and the need to preserve the agricultural institutions that support dense urban populations. Land at the periphery of Auckland’s urban expansion has become significantly more lucrative when developed for housing and commercial interests than when used to grow food. The question of what farmers, residents, property developers and Council planners value land for is now crucial to preserving Auckland’s food security and food sovereignty in the near future. This article takes Pukekohe – an agricultural powerhouse and soon-to-be new satellite town at the southern periphery of urban Auckland – as a case study for this phenomenon. I first present a discourse analysis of development in government planning documents, demonstrating that discourses of flexible planning and economic opportunity enable the unchecked loss of productive land to ad hoc urban sprawl. I then turn to media interviews and statements from prominent Pukekohe stakeholders and relate their positions to Stephen Gudeman’s theory of the five spheres of economic abstraction, arguing that one’s working relationship to land defines the value it holds for them. Lastly, I take the conclusions drawn from these two approaches to discuss the political economy of Pukekohe’s urban development, detailing the ways in which the patterns of Auckland’s urban growth privilege the short-term generation of revenue over the substantial foundations of our existence. This contradiction has been faced by cities across the planet for much of the course of human history, yet it has never been more relevant than it is today, as the world’s urban population significantly increases and the realities of climate change force us to reconsider the future of global food production.

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2021-06-01
2024-05-29
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