Aotearoa Migration Research Network Seminar Series 2020: Diversity and equality in visions of neighbourhood renewal

Date Tuesday 3 March 2020
Time 11am - 12pm
Where S1.10, or via zoom
Presenter Dr Jessica Terruhn
Contact Shemana Cassim
Contact email
Admission Cost Free

Auckland is currently seeing a large number of urban development projects that form part of addressing the city’s housing crisis. This presentation critically discusses the discursive role notions of diversity and equality play in the visions of such urban development projects with a focus on the Auckland neighbourhood of Northcote. The Northcote Development is exemplary of current large-scale developments in Auckland insofar as it takes place in a socio-economically deprived neighbourhood with a large area of land owned by Housing New Zealand. In the course of redevelopment, this land undergoes intensification as well as partial privatisation by offering a mix of affordable and market homes alongside public housing. Based on a qualitative content analysis of planning documents, website content and community publications pertaining to the Northcote Development, this presentation argues that diversity is explicitly mobilised to justify state-led gentrification. This is particularly evident in discourses that frame a likely influx of higher-income earners in terms of greater socio-economic diversity that benefits all neighbourhood residents. In order to attract affluent homebuyers, undesirable ‘low-value’ diversity is eliminated whilst desirable diversity, especially as part of food culture, becomes an asset. All the while, notions of equality are conspicuously absent from visions for the neighbourhood. The discussion situates the findings in critical scholarship on the urban diversity dividend to argue that such discourses of socio-economic diversity ultimately benefit developers and gentrifiers while risking the direct and indirect displacement of low-income residents.

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