Hazel Ashton is the facilitator for this website.

Hazel was born in the Cobb Valley (North Takaka) and spent much of her early life in Hanmer Springs, in the South Island, Aotearoa New Zealand. One of many students in New Zealand at the time who was expected to leave school at fifteen, she worked for several years as a pottery apprentice for Hanmer Pottery and later set up her own pottery business. After leaving Hanmer, she worked in rural areas, on farms and during this time married and had three daughters.

Throughout her life Hazel has participated in community focused, collaborative projects. As a mother, she became involved with the Playcentre movement whose philosophy was ‘learning through play’.

Hazel moved to Christchurch in the late 1980s and set up her pottery business which led to her involvement with the Plains Dollars and Barter Scheme (PLEBS). She also became involved in the Nuclear Free Peacemaking Association, initially through concerns about the 1990-91 bombing of Iraq. (See what people say about Larry Ross’s contribution to the nuclear free issue). During this time she became a Quaker (The Religious Society of Friends).

An engagement in publicity for the Iraq and other peace issues, led to Hazel being asked to stand for election as a community board member in the local government elections (1992-1995). This led to an interest in local politics and a wish to develop new and more effective forms of engagement with local publics. She found that new and user friendly communications technologies which were coming on stream in the early 1990s, along with the creative arts and film, provided new affordances for such engagement.

Academic background

Hazel was encouraged to attend the University of Canterbury by Richard Thompson from Quakers. He believed she would benefit from university and that the university could benefit from effective engagement with local publics and the innovative and creative local projects she was engaged in. Hazel began university part time in 1993 and managed to relate her local engagement with research and theory, each informing the other. While working in the locality and studying sociology at the university, she came to realise how it was possible to blend social, literary, culture, and economics into new narrative framing.

As well as pursuing an academic career, Hazel has also engaged in a local creative writing project called “Open Stage.” In this project, she came to perform the poem which subsequently became the basis of the one-act play. This in turn became a tool for research when it was subsequently adapted for film.

In her doctoral thesis, she was supported by her academic supervisors and the Ministry of Social Development’s Secretariat for Social Policy Evaluation and Research (SPEaR) to develop a research methodology that involved transgressively connecting the everyday local life, academia and policy.

Hazel enjoys peripatetic café conversations, especially discussing theory, and politics, and collaborating with others in creative and innovative projects– and – having time with children, especially engaging with their wonder and imagination.


Ashton, H. and Thorns, D. The Role of Information Communications Technology in Retrieving Local Community. City and Community, 2007.

Ashton, H. and D. Thorns, Information Communication Technologies – to make or break community? Future Times, 2004, 4.

Ashton, H., Acting Locally, in Monthly Review. 1995. p. 10-11. University of Canterbury.


Ashton, Hazel, Co-Creating Good Life Films in Localities, Inclusive Narrative Methodology Building on Aristotle and Ricoeur, New Zealand Geographical Society Conference, Rydges Hotel, Christchurch,  5-8 July, 2010. (then use 2010 abstracts link)

Ashton, Hazel (University of Canterbury) Brokering Communication Between Academia, Localities and Policy, BRCSS Network Conference – Social Sciences Research: A Celebration – 10, 11, 12 June 2009 (link to full report pdf).

Ashton Hazel, 23 March 2009, Whole of Locality Development, Community and Voluntary Sector Research Forum (ANGOA) Beckenham Service Center, and Library, Christchurch City Council

Ashton Hazel, 10 October 2008, Transdisciplinary social science @ www.village-connections.com: Helping to transform worst fears into best hopes. University of Canterbury on Sociology and Anthropology Dept. Rm 235. Geography Building. Abstract Hazel Ashton’s sociology seminar abstract 10-10-08 (PDF)

Ashton Hazel, 15 September 2008, Using film & internet to co-create local development narratives, Impact 08, The Social, Cultural & Ethical Impact of ICT Innovation, Access Grid network, Canterbury University.

Ashton Hazel, 19-21 June 2008 Creating new, locally-grounded, cosmopolitan agency: From local conversations to co-constructed, filmed, developmental narratives:Europe Since 1989, Interpreting Social Change Conference, 10th Anniversary European Journal of Social Theory, University of Sussex

Ashton, Hazel 14/15 April 2008 Local place and its co-construction in the global network society: Utilising film and communication technologies for inclusive, locally grounded, civic cosmopolitan projects in a new ‘network locality’ BRCSS/SPEaR Research Colloquium, Wellington

Ashton, H. Connecting Place and Policy with Local Film Making. in Investing in Social Success. 2007. Wellington: SPRE Conference (pdf).

Ashton, H., Your ideas on creative arts, new media and ICTs for new forms of university-community collaborations. 2006, The Canterbury University Christchurch Discourse Research Group seminar 5 April.

Ashton, H., Building New University-Community Connections with Film and Web Technologies. 2006, School of Sociology and Anthropology Seminars, Friday 10 March.

Ashton, H. Sociology – Reactive Critique or Creative Communication? (abstract) in SAANZ conference. 2005. Napier.

Ashton, H. Creative Media-based Methodology as Tools for Participation in Democratic Dialogue. in Organization of Technologies, Publics and Power. 2004. Akaroa.

Ashton, H. The Brave New Knowledge Wave. in SAANZ Conference. 2003. Auckland.

Ashton, H. Some experiments with community-run ICT in St Albans: towards a local place where everyone who has something to offer, can … International Association for Community Development Conference. 2002. Rotorua.

Ashton, H. Claiming Internet for the Community in Flaxroots Technology. 2000. Wellington: Internal Affairs.


Ashton, H., Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) as resources for community development: What is being done? What is their potential? Case study, interviews and analysis (pdf) – with reference to government policies. 2003, Social Science Research Centre University of Canterbury: Christchurch.

Ashton, H., Your place – surrounded by 4-level buildings? The joys of living in an L3 Zone, in The St Albans Neighborhood News STANN. 1999. p. 1. Macmillan Brown Library, (Library use only) University of Canterbury.

Ashton, H., New Zealand and Iraq, undergraduate research essay for Political Science Department. 1996, University of Canterbury: Christchurch.

Ashton, H., Media-Driven or Mediation-Based Foreign Policy? in Nuclear-Free. 1994, Macmillan Brown Library, (Library use only) University of Canterbury.

Ashton, H., The Safety of Nuclear-Powered Ships? in Nuclear-Free. 1993, Macmillan Brown Library, (Library use only) University of Canterbury.


BRCSS Postdoctoral award: Award to carry out research project New Creative Social Science for Chosen Quality Futures (June 2008-June 2009)


Building Social Science Research Capacity (BRCSS) 2006
Social Policy Evaluation and Research (SPEaR) award 2002 & 2003
C. Wright Mills 1998 & 1999

University study

Doctoral thesis: Submitted November 2007, University of Canterbury, New Zealand:
Local Place and its Co-Construction in the Global Network Society: Utilizing Film and Communication Technologies for Inclusive, Locally Grounded, Civic Cosmopolitan Projects, in a New Network Locality (PhD thesis_fulltext)

Master of Arts: (Distinction) in Sociology April 2002, University of Canterbury, New Zealand: Finding Local Ground between Determinate Modern Rationality and a Global Age of Speed: St Albans Experiments in Reflexive Community (1992-2002)

B.A. Honours: (first class) in Sociology 1998-1999, University of Canterbury, New Zealand: General Theory, Social Assessment, Research Methods, Political Sociology

B.A. Double Major: Sociology and Political Science