Cultural wellbeing and the Local Government Act 2002: a Hamilton case study
Choudharey, Ruth Indira
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Influenced by the global phenomenon of the third way paradigm, the reform of the New Zealand Local Government Act 2002 (LGA 2002) marked significant changes for local authorities. Under this Act, local authorities were required to consult with their communities to develop long term plans identifying social, economic, environmental and cultural outcomes and progress indicators within a sustainable development framework. Since 2002, local authorities have developed at least one long term plan with a full consultation process. This thesis explored the interpretation of cultural wellbeing based on ethnicity and cultural identity, identifying factors that may influence indicator development using Hamilton City Council’s Long Term Council Community Plan (LTCCP) 2006 as a case study. The qualitative and secondary quantitative research has shown tensions exist, between the application of a western definition of cultural wellbeing and the cultural worldview within a governance model. Subsequent findings relate to the dearth of literature exploring the relationship between principles of citizenship, cultural diversity and cultural wellbeing within a New Zealand setting. Through the reflexive research process it has been identified that any further work in this area draws on community participatory research design and indigenous methodology. Cultural wellbeing is a live process moving beyond the manifestation of tradition and custom that traditionally has been associated with indicator development. The generic nature of cultural wellbeing indicators could be related to the need for more research into the epistemology of culture as a knowledge tradition in itself and how it is incorporated into development of wellbeing measures and indicators. By drawing on central, local and regional monitoring programmes, local authorities, such as Hamilton City Council have demonstrated an evolution in the type of cultural wellbeing indicators and outcomes used; however the full intent of broadening the role of local government to include cultural wellbeing is still to be realised.