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Understanding the impact of democratic logics on participatory resource decision-making in New Zealand


This paper claims that participatory approaches to water resource management in New Zealand are highly influenced by how institutional and community actors understand and practise democracy, including indigenous Māori rights under the Treaty of Waitangi. Drawing on case study analysis from a six-year research programme in which the aim was to evaluate existing and new methods for participatory decision-making, we highlight how different but co-existing democratic beliefs and practices, referred to as democratic logics can shape relationships between governance/decision-making bodies and affected communities. One particular case is examined in detail to illustrate how the various “logics” were strengthened, extended and challenged through participatory research methodologies. Our key message is that revealing and articulating existing democratic logics for participation can help promote and facilitate new participatory approaches, as well as increase robustness and community buy-in to local government decision-making.

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