Strategic Research Areas

The BBHTC Challenge has six strategic research programmes that will operate over the first five years of the Challenge:

1.      Kāinga Tahi Kāinga Rua

2.      Future neighbourhoods in cities

3.      Supporting success in regional settlements

4.      Next-generation information

5.      Transforming the building industry

6.      Improving the architecture of decision-making

The following sections describe in brief the research programmes and how they will contribute to Challenge objectives (highlighted in italics).

Research programmes delivering to Challenge objectives

Kāinga Tahi Kāinga Rua

The Kāinga Tahi Kāinga Rua Strategic Research Area recognises the dual and complex nature of our Māori identities and the many communities we construct our lives in. Simply all Māori by whakapapa originate from a specific place, rohe, marae, kāinga but are more likely now to live at their Kāinga Rua in a city. Many Māori may consider their Kāinga Tahi being the city now and their Kāinga Rua their marae.

The research area will deliver solutions for how we collaboratively finance, design and build developments, with buy-in from multiple stakeholders, to overcome discriminatory policy and legislative barriers to actively support Māori aspirations for long-term affordable and healthy housing that meets the needs of their communities.

Shaping places: Future Neighbourhoods

Liveable and well-designed neighbourhoods, including houses, benefit their inhabitants. These also contribute to successful towns and cities. In other words, both the physical and social structure of neighbourhoods are critical to their success. 

This research will focus on the larger cities - home to around half of all New Zealanders. It will lead to an understanding of the principles and processes that create more successful neighbourhoods.

One way it will do this is by investigating the complex factors involved in urban design, especially in relation to New Zealand cities. This will improve future urban environments through better planning and better integrating affordable housing in future communities.

In collaboration with stakeholders, the research will also evaluate real neighbourhoods, including ones with a high proportion of Māori residents, to discover how successful they are and why. This will improve future urban environments as communities can implement practices known to be successful with support from experienced communities. Also, it will inform better land use decision-making about the structure of successful communities.

The research will also create co-innovative communities of practice in major New Zealand cities. This will enhance uptake of innovation across the country in regard to improved urban communities.


Supporting success in regional settlements

Regional settlements in New Zealand are variably successful. There is local and central government drive to support regional settlement regeneration, and this needs to be underpinned by strong science. Regeneration includes property-led development, cultural and built heritage revitalisation, ecological restoration, business social entrepreneurship and community ventures. 

So this programme will develop a model of the system of regional settlements and their linkages to cities and rural activity. Such a model will identify connections to improve urban environments.

It will also develop a knowledge platform based on regeneration in practice, to support Māori regeneration activities in regional settlements. Such a platform will improve urban environments.

Another feature will be an inventory of regeneration approaches, including assessment methodologies. It will also develop a community of practice involving researchers, key stakeholders and users, sharing information about how to create prosperous, liveable, healthy and sustainable (environmentally, socially and economically) regional settlements. This will increase the likely uptake of innovation.

Next-generation information for better outcomes

There is an expanding wealth of digital information, particularly geospatial data, which could be better used to inform the development of better homes, towns and cities. This is particularly relevant to better urban planning. However, much of this data is underutilised or not being translated into good information. And very little data is easily scaled from local to regional and national, or vice versa. 

Modern technology offers opportunities to use a wider range of data. For example, crowd-sourced data can help shape and improve the function and flow of our communities. But currently we are not realising the potential of these sources.

So, this programme will:

  • increase the understanding, management and use of geospatial information, including knowledge of the existing data and its use

  • identify critical new data, to improve planning of urban environments

  • develop a framework for data collection and collation as well as a geospatial toolkit, to support improved urban planning

  • determine the role of sensor and crowd-sourced data in improving planning of urban environments

It will determine the relevance of geospatial information to Māori. It will also develop information infrastructure and geospatial urban planning tools collaboratively with users, particularly local and central government. This is to maximise the use of geospatial data, so potential users are more likely to take up the innovations.

Transforming the building industry

This research aims to transform the current conservative, constrained and fragmented building industry into a productive, innovative industry for the 21st century. Under the overarching theme of innovation, the research will focus on three areas: new technologies, appropriate upskilling of labour, and improving processes with a focus on whole-of-building, whole-of-life performance. 

The research will:

  • improve the quality and functionality of new buildings through the use of technology and education to improve housing stock

  • use new technologies and education to reduce the cost of building, thus meeting future demand for affordable housing

  • co-innovate with numerous industry organisations and upskill the labour force to increase the likely uptake of innovation

  • draw on values embedded in mātauranga Māori in upskilling the Māori labour force.


Understanding and retooling the architecture and logics of decision-making

Despite the resources, reviews, time and anxiety we in New Zealand expend saying we want affordable, functional homes, fit for purpose, financially sustainable infrastructure that meets the needs of local communities, built environments that facilitate individuals, households and families to thrive or a productive building sector - New Zealand keeps failing to deliver on that.

This SRA says let's stop looking for the mythical "silver bullets". Let's stop turning the cycle of blame. Let's, instead, take a realist approach which recognises:

  • That there are lots of actors and decisions that impact on our homes, towns and cities.

  • Some of those actors and the logics of their decisions are not clear to others and some actors have more impacts than others.

  • We often don't understand:

    • how different players' logics, practices and tools affect New Zealand's ability to get affordable homes in towns and cities; or

    • how we can adjust things to get better outcomes for all.

This research focuses on understanding and changing the way different actors relate to one another to help us get better homes, towns and cities. It focuses on: 

  • Critical Resource Holders - The holders and suppliers of land and finance. These include owner occupiers of residential land and public bodies. Particularly important are financial institutions.

  • Critical Actors:

    • On the supply-side are those who transform land and finance into homes and built environments. They include developers, housing providers (public, private and community), the construction industry and infrastructure providers. Their decisions shape the location, type and function of developments, their size, scale and timing and the functionality, connectedness and affordability of the homes delivered within our towns and cities. Their decisions are often governed by tools and requirements around economic or social returns on investment.

    • On the demand-side the focus is on householders (owner occupiers and tenants respectively) who sometimes but not always influence our housing stock and built environments through housing choices.

  • Regulatory Agents - These include central and local government agencies and some other players that can "regulate" our living spaces, for instance, by imposing things like covenants.

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