Jetties and small settlement regeneration

The Church Bay jetty was successfully restored by the community by December 2016, after the Christchurch City Council made the decision in 2011 not to finance the jetty repair. The overall effect was of “bringing the community together”, with the grand re-opening occasion marked by a sign stating “We have saved our jetty”. The Kaioruru / Church Bay jetty was subsequently used as a blueprint for other community-led jetty restoration projects around the Peninsula. Photo: Kate Oranje, Lincoln University.

New Building Better-funded research shows that jetties are deeply valued by people in a variety of ways from the recreational, to the historical, to the aesthetic. Jetties are places of connection, with intergenerational value. The researchers say that restoring a community’s jetty has a greater effect than just repairing the physical structure.

Recreational activities using jetties by the community were wide ranging including fishing, walking, nature appreciation, jumping off it, and using it to launch a kayak or boat.

In addition, many people interviewed for the research also emphasised that the jetties offered much more than their functional purposes. As an interviewee said, “I don’t think you have to use something for it to be precious.”

Jetties provide access to the marine environment to which many community members feel a connection and from which they get pleasure. Some utilise its access to nature for their wellbeing, or for their hobbies, such as birding, with a respondent referring to their local jetty as the “Blue Hagley Park”.

Researcher Professor Hamish Rennie, Associate Professor – Department of Environmental Management at Lincoln University, says, “Jetties provide an experience and offer a perspective of the bays from the end of the jetty that would otherwise require access to a boat.”

“Many people in the community find enjoyment from their local jetty. They are often admired as part of the scenery, even if the jetty is not physically used by some, it is still appreciated visually, and as a destination to reach when out walking – and from that point of view they contribute directly to both our physical and mental wellbeing,” says Hamish.

“Their presence incites queries about its history and purpose, and they are engrained in the landscape of the bays. Fond childhood memories and sentimental feelings are often associated with jetties, with the jetty a ‘signature part of their lives’ for some people. During the research, some people expressed their delight in creating further memories with their children and grandchildren on the jetty – creating strong emotional attachments to the structures.”

The researchers, Kate Oranje and Jess Farrar, both Lincoln University Summer research scholarship students, Dr Sylvia Nissen, Senior Lecturer – Department of Environmental Management at Lincoln University, and Hamish explored the community-led restoration initiatives of jetties in small settlements around Te Pataka o Rakaihautū/Banks Peninsula.

“Little research has previously been conducted on the role of jetties in small settlement rejuvenation. We wanted to delve into the importance of these marine structures in small communities and how the process and outcomes of community-led restoration can contribute to community spirit,” says Hamish.

The study looked at three jetties in detail: Takamatua, Kaioruru/Church Bay, and Ōtoromiro/Governors Bay. In all three cases, community-led initiatives have restored, or are in the process of restoring, that community’s jetty amenity after their local councils had been unable to do so. Because of the drive of core groups of residents, partnerships and other arrangements were formed with councils that lead to positive outcomes.

“This was particularly so in the cases of Church Bay and Takamatua, where, after working through some hurdles and developing a tangible plan, a successful outcome was reached. The process of the restoration was also reflected on positively. The community members involved in the rebuild spoke highly of their resulting relationship with the council on completion, with expressions like ‘amazing’ and ‘couldn’t have been better’. More specifically they referred to council members directly involved in overseeing the projects and making the effort to work alongside the communities.”

Hamish says a significant legacy of the jetty restorations is the re-energising of small settlement communities.

The research project was a Lincoln University Summer research scholarship project, funded by the Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities National Science Challenge (BBHTC). AgResearch-based Dr Mike Mackay, co-Leader of BBHTC’s Thriving Regions Programme, says, “the work makes an important contribution to our understanding of community-led regeneration projects – what works well, why, and for whom – and how community revitalisation projects can and should be resourced and supported in the long term.”

Read the research

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Date posted: 5 April 2022