A cultural footprint in Auckland’s public space
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Permanent link to Research Bank record:http://hdl.handle.net/10652/2354
This thesis presents an interdisciplinary and exploratory study that seeks to identify transformations of the public space in Auckland’s Northcote Town Centre produced by the Northeast Asian cultural group, particularly its Chinese community. It makes an attempt to integrate the two fields of intercultural communication and urban planning that have been little explored together in the past. In order to identify changes in the public space, this research investigates experiences, perceptions, events, activities and representations within the relationship between the Northeast Asian cultural group and the public space in the Northcote Town Centre, with an emphasis on cultural identity and belonging. The overall phenomenological research design with particular focus on non-participant observations along with semi-structured interviews, archival research and photography provides effective measures to collect and analyse the data required to achieve the research aim. Findings of this study indicate that the cultural transformation of the public space is significantly experienced through the changing uses of the public space. In this sense, this research reveals cultural and social leisure activities, such as Tai Chi, Chinese chess, Chinese dance exercises, reading, meeting and networking which are important to the Northeast Asian cultural group and especially its elderly members. Further, signs and manifestations are revealed through which this specific culture manifests itself in the context of New Zealand’s public urban space and its 'immigrant gateway city' - Auckland. This includes, for example, smells, sounds, activities, costumes, colours, and language signboards which also communicate cultural identity to the outside. The results of this research indicate that a transformation of the public space has taken place. This change started in the late 1990s, when Northeast Asian owned business entrepreneurs settled into the neglected and rundown European-based town centre and turned the area into a colourful, food oriented ethnic precinct. This study contributes to an interdisciplinary research field with a particular emphasis on Auckland’s future urban planning issues. It provides some recommendations for urban planners and policy makers to deepen the understanding of cultural groups as space-users and their aspirations, needs, priorities and demands to create responsive and successful public spaces in Auckland’s future public environment.