More water: the rise of a singular vision for rural development

Amanda Thomas*, Sophie Bond, Gradon Diprose, Andrew McGregor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


This paper traces the emergence and dominance of a singular discourse about rural development. The “more water” discourse that emerged in the 2000s in Canterbury was rooted in the idea that vibrant communities depend on economic growth, which hinges on accessing more freshwater for irrigation. Using thick description of the work of a catchment committee, this paper charts the dominance of this discourse and the attempts to channel “more water” through a tightly controlled collaborative and consensus-based approach. More democratic processes would welcome difference, questioning of prevailing approaches to development, and may lead to more diverse economies and resilient communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106-116
Number of pages11
JournalNew Zealand Geographer
Issue number2
Early online date11 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2020


  • Canterbury Water Management Strategy
  • collaboration
  • consensus
  • development discourses
  • freshwater
  • rural development


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