Public Perceptions of NZ's Environment (ongoing)

This research studies New Zealand residents´ views about the New Zealand environment. Data has been obtained by mail survey of 2000 people randomly selected from the Electoral Roll, but in 2013 was gathered through e-survey. Each biennial (from 2010 triennial) survey uses the Pressure-State-Response framework for state of the environment reporting to assess resources such as air quality, native plants and animals, native forest and bush, soils, beaches and coastal waters, marine fisheries, marine reserves, freshwaters, national parks, wetlands, urban environments, and the natural environment compared to other developed nations.

We also examine participation in environmentally friendly activities. Individual case studies are also undertaken and reported.

All the reports are available in hard copy and electronically (2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2013).

The project leader is Professor Ken Hughey with Professors Geoff Kerr and Ross Cullen other members of the research team.

2013: This was the 7th triennial (formerly biennial) survey (see Hughey, Kerr and Cullen 2013). Consistent findings were again reported – notably there has been a more than doubling over the 2000-2013 survey period to around 56% of respondents identifying farming as a major cause of damage to freshwater. Other key results are again that of our natural resources rivers and lakes are considered in the worst state, and getting worse over time; by contrast people are still generally positive about management. Our 2013 case studies concerned whitebait fishery management and options for how to better limit the catch, and peoples’ perceptions of the relative importance and positive symbolism to New Zealand of having viable populations of a wide range of animal species in the wild.
2010: This was the ‘10th’ anniversary of biennial surveying (see for example Hughey, Cullen and Kerr 2010). Consistent findings were again reported – notably there has been a more than doubling over the 2000-2010 survey period to over 50% for those identifying farming as a major cause of damage to freshwater. For this survey we tested parallel postal and electronic surveys and will run with electronic in the future. We decided also to run future surveys triennially – trends are consistent and for cost saving reasons. The case study was again freshwater.
2008: In 2008 we began to detect that respondents were viewing management of natural resources increasingly positively while pressures and states were remaining largely static. This suggests an optimism that improved management will ultimately be reflected in an improved state. Case studies were around freshwater and around conservation. This was the 5th iteration of the survey, a milestone (see for example Hughey, Cullen and Kerr 2008).
2006: While overall trends were now consistently embedded in the survey findings we did make one major change to the survey – we removed questions about conditions 5 years ago – we did this because the survey now covered such periods. The case studies were around land transport and the environment (see Hughey, Kerr and Cullen 2011) and priorities for government policy.
2004: Our third survey witnessed even more significance in terms of changing perceptions of farming and freshwater – this was a trend that has continued since. Our case study was about freshwater and freshwater angling. Notable here was detection of significant differences between Maori, European and other ethnicities with Maori typically expressing higher levels of concern (see Cullen, Kerr and Hughey 2006; Hughey, Kerr and Cullen 2007). Also for the first time we reported the genesis/rationale of the survey in a peer reviewed journal (see Hughey, Kerr, Cullen and Cook 2004).
2002: This survey saw the first set of results comparable to a previous, the 2000 survey. The biggest finding was that an increasing number of people identified farming as a major cause of damage to freshwater. We had two case studies: one around allocation of government expenditure (see Kerr, Cullen and Hughey 2010), and the other about the coastal-marine environment including the potential to introduce a marine fishing licence for recreational anglers (see Kerr, Hughey and Cullen 2003).
2000: The first of the biennial surveys – no great surprises, not surprisingly as there was no comparable data. Perhaps most gratifying was the 48% effective response rate – amazing for a postal survey of this type. A case study on hazards was included in the survey.


Page last updated on: 29/08/2014