Seminar: Reflections on Small Town and Regional Development in New Zealand

2019 08 26 Small Town Development

Presented by Dr. Sean Connelly & Prof. Etienne Nel - University of Otago

This presentation overviews and discusses the nature and impact of changes in small town populations and economies in recent years in New Zealand and considers the regional development implications of such changes and of recent government policy shifts. The work forms part of a National Science Challenge research investigation.

DATE: Monday, 26 August

VENUE: Tai Poutini Polytechnic (Conference Room) - 73-87 Tainui Street, Greymouth

TIME: 5.30pm-7.00pm




Since early last year, Dr Sean Connelly and Professor Etienne Nel from Otago University have been regular visitors to the West Coast as part of their research project ‘Harnessing the Hinterland’.

Sean, Etienne and others in the team received funding from the National Science Challenge in 2018. Their project aimed to ‘understand the role of rural and small-town New Zealand in contributing to the economy and to the rebuilding of community’. They conducted research in the West Coast, Taranaki and Otago/Southland talking to the district’s Mayors and councillors, as well as iwi, business owners and residents.

The research is now coming to an end and in good faith Dr Connelly and Professor Nel would like to share their findings with the region’s residents.

Development West Coast (DWC) research and innovation manager, Helen Wilson, regularly spent time with the team during the research period. She says: “I’m really keen to hear what they have to say. Any little gem of knowledge that might assist us and our region to plan for the future is very welcome.”

DWC will be hosting a free seminar with Dr Connelly and Professor Nel on Monday evening at Tai Poutini Polytechnic. To register for the 5:30pm event on-line visit

About Dr. Sean Connelly

Sean is a Senior Lecturer with the School of Geography at the University of Otago. He is interested in the broad area of sustainable communities and how they contribute to the wider concept of sustainable development. In particular, he is interested in the gap between planning and policy development and local environmental action including the development of sustainable food systems and the diverse futures of rural small towns here in the South Island. Further info:

About Prof. Etienne Nel

Professor Etienne Nel is in the School of Geography at the University of Otago and is currently co-leading a National Sciences Challenge investigation of rural and small town New Zealand. He is interested in local economic and community development, having conducted research and publications of development across Africa and New Zealand.

Further info: