Contesting Property Development in Coastal New Zealand: A Case Study of Ocean Beach, Hawke’s Bay


This article considers the contested process of coastal development in New Zealand and the implications of both governmental regulation and public concern for understanding property. Its empirical focus is a proposal for a substantial, new urbanist development at Ocean Beach, located in the Hawke’s Bay region of the North Island. Three key sources of data inform the research: published reports; public submissions to council; and interviews with a sample of those involved in the planning process. Opposition to development is explained in terms of three broad areas of concern: the dramatic physical and social changes that would accompany subdivision and construction; fears of a loss of control over a valued local landscape; and a morally informed sense of propriety. The article finds that the ownership model of property is not especially powerful at Ocean Beach; rather, there is a broad consensus that private property rights exist within a public planning framework. It is this framework that contributes, in large part, to ensuring that voices of community opposition to property development at Ocean Beach (and elsewhere along the coast) are heard. Nevertheless, private property rights are rarely dismissed completely.