3 years ago

National discovery and citizen experts in Aotearoa New Zealand: Local and global narratives of hydraulic fracturing

Patricia Widener

Publication date: Available online 30 June 2018

Source: The Extractive Industries and Society

Author(s): Patricia Widener


Aotearoa New Zealand is a little-known oil and gas producer with a long history of conventional, small-volume extraction in the province of Taranaki. The development of unconventional technologies coupled with political and economic interest in expanding extraction positioned communities and landscapes with no previous history into becoming emergent, extractive frontiers. Data from interviews, observations, and publicly available documents were collected and analyzed to study how fracking vulnerable communities responded to oil and gas proposals for exploration. This study found that residents of the first-fracked communities of Taranaki became national experts, informants, and translators for the fracking vulnerable regions. This study also found that first-fracked communities in English-speaking nations served, whether knowingly or not, as an additional well of publicly accessible insight whether they experienced earthquakes in Oklahoma, mobilized resistance in England, or locked their gates in Australia. This global exchange revealed a globalization of citizen knowledge for vulnerable communities to challenge becoming the next frontier. Finally, this study found that a civic boomerang occurred, in which residents of the frontiers who were opposed to hydraulic fracturing discovered the problems of extraction and turned a more critical lens on the industry’s workaday practices in the province of Taranaki.

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