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Intending smallholders’ and existing smallholders’ perceptions of the rural lifestyle around Christchurch, New Zealand

Fairweather, John R.
Fields of Research
ANZSRC::1402 Applied Economics
In this qualitative study of smallholders around Christchurch a total of 58 people on 33 smallholdings were interviewed to learn about perceptions of the rural lifestyle. Intending smallholders, those who had just obtained building permits, were a diverse group in terms of ages and type of family. Their primary goals were to obtain income from the land, typically from horticultural land use, and to enjoy a lifestyle which valued privacy, clean air, freedom and quietness, and which was good for raising children. Data from a Q-sort of statements about urban and rural values showed preferences for wilderness values and some farming and agricultural values, and disagreement with statements reflecting negative aspects of rural living. There were no strong anti-urban sentiments. Existing smallholders, those who obtained building permits five years ago, were also a diverse group and their primary goal was country living. They had undertaken horticultural and animal land uses but their economic expectations had not been met, and the land uses not developed to the extent that they had hoped. They enjoyed lifestyle values of openness, quietness, clean air, animals and lowered pressure. Q-sort data were similar to intending smallholders but existing smallholders more highly rated being close to nature and positive aspects of rural living. Data on reasons for selling the smallholding showed that few had left out of dissatisfaction and returned to the city. The discussion focuses on explanation of smallholding in terms of meanings, and includes analysis of constraints to smallholding viability.