Publications: Research reports and publications

Representation and legitimacy in collaborative freshwater planning: Stakeholder perspectives on a Canterbury Zone Committee

17 November, 2015
Cawthron Report 2787. Prepared for Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.


This report focuses on the issue of representation – how affected interests are involved in collaborative deliberations – and specifically the perceptions of the legitimacy of this approach by those not directly involved in the deliberations themselves.

The research is based on three focus group meetings conducted with community members in the Selwyn District of Canterbury in mid-2014. In the focus groups, general public participants were uniformly negative about the zone committee process, while those who had engaged with the process were divided largely along interest group lines.

Environmental, recreational and community group members were all quite negative about the transparency, accountability and representativeness (i.e. legitimacy) of the process, while those from farming backgrounds were more likely to give a positive overall assessment even though they also recognised the shortcomings. This is based on a small sample, so further research is needed to determine how widespread these views are.

Canterbury’s approach, seen as a hybrid of collaboration and the more traditional planning approach, still faces questions about its legitimacy in the eyes of some stakeholders and the general public.

This research was conducted under the Values, Monitoring and Outcomes research programme led by Landcare Research and funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.