Madison Chamberlain is hitting the books to fight for Southland’s reputation.
The 23-year-old is conducting a survey investigating wellbeing in the region for her Master’s thesis A Community-Up Approach to Regional Wellbeing .
Having grown up in Southland, including teenage years spent just outside of Gore, she frequently found herself sticking up for the area when she moved north to study at Victoria University of Wellington.
“I was shocked to see how true the rural and urban divide is,” Miss Chamberlain said.
” I found myself defending Southland.”
This motivated her to choose it as a research topic.
“I’m someone that has to be able to back my opinion with facts.
“Basically I’m painting a big picture of the wellbeing in Southland.
“I cover a huge range. I go from environmental themes to crime to healthcare to education.”
The issues would not be investigated at the depth they deserved, but she hoped her study would spark others to take the issues further, she said.
“I think we are sometimes forgotten about in terms of the country .. in terms of policy.
“We exist down here and we have a lot of good things going for us.
“There are a lot of things that are lacking, but the community makes up for that.”
An example of the strong community factor was people rallying to build the Southland Charity Hospital.
“They’re doing fantastic work.”
However, she felt it should not have been necessary for Southlanders to go to such lengths to receive adequate healthcare.
Healthcare and drugs were two issues she was unsurprised to read people had concerns about as her survey responses came in.
“It’s not satisfying to feel these negative comments.
“Sometimes I’ve thought to myself, ignorance is bliss. But ignorance doesn’t make the problems disappear.”
The majority of her dissertation would be data-based.
However, the survey, which around 160 people had taken, added an extra dimension, she said.
It was posted to Facebook on the Gore community page.
“I’d be extra appreciative if people did want to take part in the survey, because people’s opinions are so important.”
She planned to send a report of her findings to interested parties, such as Southland’s district councils.
After leaving university she hoped to work in government.