This paper presents a case for a geography of gentrification with a focus on coastal settlements in Aotearoa New Zealand. With a large proportion of the population living near the coast, the last 15 years has seen many coastal settlements experience unprecedented development and, outside of coastal urban areas, this rapid development has brought with it rising property prices and a changing demographic profile in terms of the mix of long-term permanent residents and an influx of temporary and absentee landowners.

In this paper, we argue for a new form of gentrification occurring in isolated coastal settlements, located beyond city commuter belts, and occurring within well-established coastal communities that have historical attachment to places. We present an exploratory approach and framework for measuring rates of gentrification across these settlements.

Findings from the research showed distinct patterns of gentrification, including complex spatial variation across settlements. Increases in household income, professionalisation, the number of tertiary-educated, renting and the number of empty dwellings, often corresponded with a decline in the resident Māori population (Māori are the indigenous peoples of Aotearoa New Zealand) and lower levels of deprivation as measured by the New Zealand Deprivation Index.

Our mapping of coastal settlements reinforces a new and unique form of gentrification. It is one that occurs outside of major cities and towns and is markedly different to processes of coastal (sub)urbanisation found elsewhere in Aotearoa New Zealand. It is also distinct from the building of new wealth and resort enclaves in other postcolonial countries in the Global South. The critical analysis and measurement of gentrification in isolated coastal settlements is an area that would benefit from further research and connects with calls for new geographies of gentrification to widen the spatial lens of gentrification studies.

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