Tag Archives: identity

I can’t get no satisfaction: Consumption, identity and alienation

A survey by the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development (reported here) suggests a decline in green consumption by New Zealanders in 2008, and, compared to last year, fewer people have ‘green intentions’ for the coming year. Commenting on the survey, the splendidly named Rick Starr, a marketing academic, said people were intrigued by the idea of buying green “but when it comes down to actual purchase it’s hard to find products that fit. Green options for people are limited. … Although people have good intentions and would like to be greener, sometimes it’s hard to do that. Walk into a supermarket and look at how little organic produce there is.”

Is it hard to be a green consumer simply because the purchasing options are limited, as Starr suggests? Is the answer simply to get more green product onto supermarket shelves? Or is something more complex going on here?

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Indigenous peoples, environmentalism and ‘wilderness.’ Part 2 – Aotearoa New Zealand

At first look, the idea of wilderness doesn’t seem to resonate quite as strongly in New Zealand as it seems to in North America and Australia. For example, there is no ‘Wilderness Society’ in New Zealand. The foremost conservation NGO, the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society (‘Forest & Bird’), does not mention wilderness in formal statements about its role. The Department of Conservation (DOC), set up in 1987 from an amalgam of various government agencies, manages much of the crown (ie state) owned land in New Zealand, including National Parks, forest parks, etc. Like Forest & Bird, DOC doesn’t frame its mission formally in terms of ‘wilderness’; rather it is expressed in terms of ‘natural and historic heritage.’

Nevertheless, as we look around the New Zealand conservation and backcountry recreation community, we do begin to find a strong attachment to the standard idea of wilderness as a pristine, uninhabited landscape. The word ‘wilderness’ is used frequently in documents throughout Forest & Bird’s website and several extensive regions have been defined as ‘wilderness areas’ by DOC. The first two such areas were designated in 1988, and now there are seven within the National Parks. One of the strongest advocates of the ‘wilderness’ concept in New Zealand is the Federated Mountain Clubs (FMC), a grouping of more than 100 tramping, mountaineering, hunting and adventure sports clubs with an overall membership of 12,000. It was FMC that first proposed the setting aside of tracts of public lands as ‘wilderness areas’ in 1960 and then again in 1981 (Barr, 2001, p.19).

Furthermore, the concept of ‘wilderness’ is also very well exploited for its commercial appeal in New Zealand. There is a Wilderness magazine, and a quick web-search turns up any number of wilderness adventures, escapes, expeditions, experiences, guides, lodges, resorts, safaris, tours, and walks: overall, the idea of the wilderness clearly has much symbolic power in tourism and outdoor recreation marketing.

How do Maori fit into this picture of New Zealand’s backcountry as ‘wilderness’?

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Filed under Aotearoa New Zealand, David, green politics, social justice