Voices from a Fractured Landscape: Fracking, Senses of Place, and Risks in Taranaki, Aotearoa New Zealand

  • Author / Creator
    Bettini, Anna
  • Based in the rural region of Taranaki, Aotearoa New Zealand, this ethnographic study documents the senses of place and risks as variously experienced by members of the communities where hydraulic fracturing occurs. In New Zealand, hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, began in 1989, and approximately 100 operations have been undertaken in 39 wells in the Taranaki region alone. Taranaki is considered the center of oil and gas in the country and is simultaneously a region deeply pervaded by Māori history and values. Companies have established their presence through the years with well sites and production stations around residential areas and schools, and by often sharing land with dairy farms. When I arrived in the region in 2017, little to no ethnographic research had been conducted to understand the risks associated with the practice and the impacts involved with fracking in this area. Between 2017 and 2019, field visits were conducted, and data were collected using semi-structured and unstructured interviews and participant observation to record and understand the stories and voices of community members, farmers, engineers and workers in the oil and gas sector, Māori iwi and hapū members, environmental activists, and resource management and conservation experts. This dissertation presents their perspectives and the experiences around fracking, through a phenomenological lens, to investigate the changes in people’s senses of place and belonging.
    This dissertation contributes to ethnographic studies focused on unveiling the risks and living conditions experienced by those living in fossil fuel-dependent regions, where new or unconventional extractive techniques occur. This analysis highlights social friction among members of the local community, families, and friends, impacts to sense of place, and the sense of anguish and disempowerment many feel when witnessing the changes in the surrounding environment.  

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2022
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.