Demographic and Economic Change in Small Towns in New Zealand and the Responses to Marginalisation

  • Etienne NelEmail author
  • Teresa Stevenson
Part of the Perspectives on Geographical Marginality book series (PGEO, volume 4)


The chapter traces the selective growth but more common reality of demographic and economic decline of small centres across New Zealand which have suffered from outmigration, loss of state funding, and changing market opportunities. The impact of neo-liberalism and the associated loss of state support has been felt acutely in many settlements. In general terms towns which developed from the exploitation of primary products – timber and minerals, and manufacturing are declining, while towns which rely on tourism or are home to commuters are growing rapidly; while rural service towns are in a static position. Since less public money is available for educational and health services, such small settlements risk disappearing from the map. Only towns developing strong local policies to promote local growth and training and to remain attractive for potential immigrants stand a chance of survival. Community initiatives have so far proven valuable to save small towns from total decline, but not all places have the local capacity to initiate such action.


Community initiatives Migration Neoliberalism New Zealand Small towns 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand

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