Message from the Acting Chair

    Kia ora koutou

    A welter of valuable research findings has emerged as the first phase of funding for the National Science Challenges (NSC) concluded. Links to a sample of recent initiatives are contained in this newsletter. We would also encourage readers to explore the Challenge website to see the full extent of the Challenge outputs to date.

    It has been particularly gratifying how Challenge stakeholders are engaging with the research findings. Responding to the growing level of interest is a challenge in itself for both the secretariat and the research teams, but it is a good one to have. It is demonstrating that one of the key objectives of the NSC model – that of co-creation with the likely end-users of research – is well on the way to being achieved.

    Following confirmation of funding for the Challenge for a further five years, there has been a necessary process of reviewing what is, in effect, the constitution and governance of the Challenge. This is being led by BRANZ, the host organisation for the Challenge, in conjunction with the Collaborating Parties. The Challenge Governance Group has also been actively involved in this process. One outcome has been that the Collaborating Parties have agreed to our proposal that the Challenge have co-chairs for the next phase. A partnership approach has been central to Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities since its establishment. The Governance Group was keen to explore whether this might be reflected to an even greater extent in the governance of the Challenge in Phase 2. The appointment of co-chairs is intended to acknowledge and assist to fulfil the potential of bringing together the two streams of knowledge, Māori and non-Māori, to achieve more than either has been able to do on its own.

    On the subject of collaboration, the value of the ‘Shift’ conference, jointly hosted by the Challenge and Community Housing Aotearoa in June, was amply demonstrated in the many and varied contributions to the conference. The theme was ‘New Knowledge for Housing Action’. A number of Shift conference contributions are referenced in this newsletter.

    While all of this has been happening, Director Ruth Berry and Tumu Whakarae Dr Jessica Hutchings have been progressing the first stage of contracting the very promising research programmes that will feature in the next five-year phase of the Challenge.

    Ngā mihi nui
    Graeme Nahkies
    Acting Chair, BBHTC Governance Group

    Fixing a broken system

    Co-hosted by the Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities National Science Challenge, the SHIFT Aotearoa Conference in early June was a catalyst to provide a clearer picture to those in the government and the housing sector of what needs to happen to see all New Zealanders well-housed. One of the key-note speakers, the Associate Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Minister of Māori Development, and Minister of Local Government, the Hon Nanaia Mahuta, said in her address, from a Government perspective, the housing system in New Zealand was broken.

    “. . . the extent of how broken the system was when we came into office became so evident - from the issues of homelessness; from the lack of provision of housing into secure accommodation; supported accommodation and what that required, especially in the mental health services; [and] building up the public stock of housing.”

    Key-note speaker, the Associate Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Minister of Māori Development, and Minister of Local Government, the Hon Nanaia Mahuta.

    Housing as a human right

    At the SHIFT Aotearoa Conference in early June, Paul Hunt, the Chief Commissioner at the New Zealand Human Rights Commission introduced the concept of housing as a human right, and said that we need to refresh human rights in New Zealand for our times and our place.

    The right to a decent home is espoused in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which New Zealand helped to draft.

    In New Zealand, most rights are guaranteed in our laws, such as the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act. “But some of the rights . . . are just about invisible in New Zealand. And amongst those invisible, neglected rights are social rights, such as the right to a decent home. These are neglected rights for neglected people.”

    Key-note speaker, Paul Hunt, the Chief Commissioner at the New Zealand Human Rights Commission, at the SHIFT Aotearoa conference in June 2019. Photo: Louise Thomas.

    The four key essentials for a functional housing system

    As KiwiBuild and capital gains tax dominate headlines about the direction of the housing sector, Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities says it has clear evidence of New Zealand’s housing delivery system being dismantled over the last 30 years.

    This means there is no quick fix, nor is there a silver bullet or one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to building a functional, fit for purpose, housing system from scratch.

    In order to deliver housing suitable for all, BBHTC has identified that a widespread shift needs to occur on four fronts. These are urban wellbeing; Kāinga Tahi, Kāinga Rua (Māori housing); affordable housing; and supporting regions to thrive.

    Photo: Bartek Wojtas.

    Māori Housing 4-Part Podcast

    A series of four podcasts focussed on Māori housing has been produced by Dr Becky Kiddle with support from Desna Whaanga-Schollum and Associate Professor Jo Smith as part of the Ako ahu team in the Kāinga Tahi, Kāinga Rua (KTKR) research programme.

    The role of the Ako Ahu team is to support KTKR researchers to build a community of interest related to the current housing issues facing diverse Māori communities and to help create research that our communities might find relevant, and ideally, transformative.

    Māori housing is a complex issue and requires a whole of landscape (systems) research approach that is embedded in kaupapa Māori methodologies. The Ako Ahu team worked to use pūrākau (storytelling techniques) to synthesise research findings across the three whenu of papakāinga, hauora, and whai rawa to identify key issues, concerns, innovations, and educational opportunities relevant to Māori housing.

    Housing Kaumatua. Daisy Haimona Upokomanu outside her Hamilton whare. Photo: Desna Whaanga-Schollum.

    Housing advocate wants Māori inclusion helping families

    A RNZ article reports on the SHIFT Aotearoa conference in Wellington in early June, which saw people from across the housing sector get together for three days to discuss the current and future state of housing in New Zealand.

    Mother, Tammy, addressed the large crowd at the conference, telling a story that, unfortunately, is all too familiar to many whānau in Aotearoa.

    "Our home was cold, it was damp, we had no curtains or flooring. One of my children who was 6 years old, he also was not well and had attended hospital clinics 317 times. I looked at my children and I was sad, I was working part time and I promised I would not move them until we owned our own home. We had many houses but we didn't have a home."

    Mother, Tammy, addresses the SHIFT Aotearoa conference. Photo: Louise Thomas.

    Dr Hutchings appointed to NZ's MBIE Science Board

    Building Better's Tumu Whakarae Dr Jessica Hutchings has been appointed to New Zealand's MBIE Science Board by the Minister Hon Dr Megan Woods.

    “Dr Hutchings is a well-respected kaupapa Māori research leader. Her expertise working at the interface of science and society will strengthen the Board,” the Minister said.

    Jessica has 25 years of experience in the development and implementation of Māori science strategy which includes building and leading Māori research teams and programmes across a wide range of disciplines and science models.

    Dr Jessica Hutchings (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Huirapa, Gujarati), Tumu Whakarae for Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities: Ko ngā wā kāinga hei whakamahorahora, has been appointed to New Zealand's MBIE Science Board. Photo: Louise Thomas.

    Hobsonville Point: Living at higher density

    How do the residents of Auckland's Hobsonville Point – New Zealand’s largest master-planned residential development, feel about living at higher density? That's the focus of a new report recently released by Building Better's Shaping Places: Future Neighbourhoods research team.

    Living at higher density now has a number of drivers that includes urban planning for compact development, the efficient use of land, and achieving more sustainable urban forms. In Auckland, there is an increasing proportion of higher density attached housing being delivered: over half of residential development in Auckland now involves attached housing types such as terraces and apartments. Does this change towards New Zealanders living at higher density lead to necessary housing satisfaction on the part of residents, and deliver wellbeing? This is particularly of interest where living in lower density suburban housing in the past has been the norm.

    Click below for a PDF of the report.

    Hobsonville Point. Photo: Errol Haarhoff.

    Moving for business or fun?

    A new study from Motu Economic and Public Policy Research for the Building Better Homes, Towns, and Cities National Science Challenge uses a deep-dive analysis of census rent and wage data to look at whether people choose to move to locations with better quality of life or better quality of business.

    Locations with a high quality of life attract migrants from other urban areas, but do not attract international migrants. Locations with a high quality of business do not attract domestic (urban or rural) migrants, but do attract international migrants.

    “A one standard deviation increase in a location’s quality of business is estimated to increase international migration into that location by approximately one-third, while raising domestic residents’ migration out of that location by approximately one-fifth,” says programme leader Dr Arthur Grimes.

    Do people choose to move to locations with better quality of life or better quality of business? Moving. Photo: Mike Bird from Pexels.

    Where do we dance? Planning social spaces in the suburbs

    The UK has its pubs. In China, people go out at dusk to exercise in the streets. So, where do Kiwis go to socialise in the suburbs?

    In this NZ Local Government Magazine article by Building Better researcher Rebecca Kiddle from Victoria University of Wellington, she writes that research shows a significant gap in planning for neutral ‘bumping spaces’. She presented her findings to date at the recent NZPI Conference in Napier.

    "Aotearoa New Zealand suburbs are seemingly the spatial underdog of our towns and cities. As part of the research programme Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities I am leading a project called Where Do We Dance? with dance being the metaphor for socialising, making friends and building community. The project asks where, physically, community happens in this country and how might we improve the way we design and plan our built environments to better serve the making of communities."

    Where do we dance? A street mural in Naenae, Lower Hutt. Photo: Rebecca Kiddle.

    Exploring Papakāinga

    A Kaupapa Māori quantitative methodology

    Dr Ella Henry and Professor Charles Crothers from the Kāinga Tahi, Kāinga Rua research team have published a strategy for gathering and analysing large-scale data, that will contribute to understanding how Māori might better fulfil aspirations for the designing, financing, and building of housing, as well as understanding their perceptions of housing and papakāinga, and the contribution this has to Māori wellbeing.

    Dr Henry says a study of this kind will contribute new knowledge and better understanding of Māori aspirations, in this case around housing, but that there is potential for such a methodology to be applied to a range of issues, where the data collected will contribute to improved wellbeing for Māori.

    Ngā Wai o Horotiu marae, Auckland University of Technology. Photo: Louise Thomas.

    Lincoln Planning Review - Special Issue: Building Better Towns and Communities

    In April, the Lincoln Planning Review published a special issue of their journal focussed on building better towns and communities. The publication features a number of research projects supported by Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities including Waimakariri Way: Community Engagement in Kaiapoi Town Centre Plan; Tourism-led settlement regeneration: Reaching Timaru’s potential; and Planning for Regeneration in the town of Oamaru. The journal also published an Australia and New Zealand Association of Planning Schools (ANZAPS) Conference Report by Hamish Rennie.

    Unlocking solutions to the Māori housing crisis through kaupapa Māori research

    At the SHIFT Aotearoa conference earlier this month, Kāinga Tahi, Kāinga Rua kaupapa Māori research evidence was presented that showed that since 1991, and the disestablishment of state support for housing in Aotearoa, there has been a rapid decline in Māori home ownership. The research concluded that if the government does not make structural interventions at the economic level, Māori will be almost entirely a population of renters by 2061.

    Dr Jessica Hutchings (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Huirapa, Gujarati), Tumu Whakarae for Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities: Ko ngā wā kāinga hei whakamahorahora, shares her kōrero in the Tertiary Education Union newsletter, Hau Taki Haere, on the importance of Kaupapa Māori research paradigms and methodologies in unlocking solutions to the Māori housing crisis. Photo: Desna Whaanga-Schollum.

    Airbnb: Disrupting the regional housing market

    Is Airbnb disrupting the regional housing market in New Zealand? If so, how and to what extent? The first stage of a Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities study by Malcolm Campbell, Hamish McNair, Michael Mackay, and Harvey Perkins shows short-term rental hotspots have been created in New Zealand.

    For example, Queenstown Hill has 204 Airbnb listings per 1000 residents. The area with the highest number of Airbnbs is Wanaka, a smaller South Island tourist destination. But has long-term rental availability and pricing suffered as a result? Another key issue for future research is how short-term rentals pose a challenge to local authorities who collect property taxes based on the value of the property, with some local authorities proposing or enacting specific by-laws in relation to Airbnb.

    The study, published in the Regional Studies Association journal, shows a snapshot in time of the spatial distribution of accommodation provided through Airbnb throughout New Zealand.

    Queenstown's Bay Beach. Photo: Kyle Roxas from Pexels.

    Local growth is complex!

    Current European regional policy promotes "smart specialisation" by encouraging regions to expand into activities that "build on local strengths". Smart specialisation rests upon the idea that bringing together people with complementary skills helps them generate new ideas that boost innovation and growth. But does this actually work?

    In a study funded by the Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities National Science Challenge, Benjamin Davies and Dr David Maré, both of Motu Economic and Public Policy Research, analyse the potential for this way of generating ideas to promote urban employment growth in New Zealand. They find that, in New Zealand, the presence of related industries in an area is not a strong predictor of local employment growth.

    Local job networks promote growth in big cities, but not in small towns. Wellington docks. Photo: James Coleman.

    Gauging the appeal

    A Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities National Science Challenge study has looked at why some places are better to live and do business in. Lessons from this could help other towns and cities improve their economic viability and liveability.

    Which are New Zealand’s best settlements to live in? Where are the best places in which to do business? Both of these are important when considering local development opportunities since a successful town will have both attractive work opportunities – quality of business – and be an attractive place for families to live – quality of life.

    Field days in 'meanwhile spaces'

    From 1 March to 31 May 2019, the Building Better Mauriora and Urban Wellbeing team led a South Auckland-based wellbeing-focused co-design project with AUT sustainability students, local communities, The Southern Initiative, Healthy Families, Panuku, and the Auckland Teaching Gardens at the Papatoetoe Food Hub ‘meanwhile space’. The project was projects aligned with the Papatoetoe Food Hub principles of manaakitanga (hospitality, kindness) and whanaungatanga (making of relationships, connection). They employed a range of tactics to improve local mauri - the integrated wellbeing of people and place - through innovative engagement with under-utilised ‘meanwhile spaces'.

    A field day for primary children designed by the Mauri ora and Urban Wellbeing research team: An AUT Sustainability Studio co-design, holistic wellbeing, project with local communities, the Southern Initiative, Healthy Families, Panuku, Auckland Teaching Gardens, and AUT sustainability students at the Papatoetoe Food Hub ‘meanwhile space’. Diagram: Angelica Wong, Dione Tay, Ken Tong, Poppy Schubert, and Tegan Jade Martin.

    Māori housing experts gather under one roof

    Te Ao Māori News reporter Tema Hemi covered Day 1 of the Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities co-hosted SHIFT Aotearoa Conference in June, where over three hundred researchers gathered at Wellington's Te Papa Museum to share innovative ideas on how to best tackle housing issues for Māori. He reports, "One of the country's top Māori researchers says there is no cohesive communication between government and Māori around sustainable and affordable housing, particularly in urban areas."

    Lawyer and Māori researcher Moana Jackson on Māori Television.

    Dr Fiona Cram, MNZM

    BBHTC researcher Dr Fiona Cram was admitted as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) in the Queen's Birthday Honours for services to Māori health and education. Fiona, Ngāti Pahauwera, is a member of the Kāinga Tahi, Kāinga Rua research team, as well as the Improving the architecture of decision-making team. She has been involved in a multitude of housing research projects, including "The Architecture of Decision-Making: Uncovering the dynamics that inhibit us getting the housing we all say we want" and "Building the Future with Good Homes for the People".

    Dr Fiona Cram, MNZM. Photo: Louise Thomas

    Child’s play: Involving kids in the design of public spaces

    Cities are generally designed for adults and cars. Their built form and safety concerns constrain children’s play and mobility, and a default planning position largely confines children’s use of the public realm to places such as playgrounds, skate parks and sports grounds. If children’s well being is compromised through restricted outdoor play and mobility opportunities, the social sustainability of our towns and cities is in question.
    A Building Better project is researching the best ways to engage children in the co-design of public spaces so that our towns and cities become more child-friendly. Read all about it in Architecture Now.

    A neighbourhood drawing of the Puhinui Stream regeneration project from one of the Wiri Central School’s student co-designers.

    Developers and financiers: impacts in the NZ housing market

    Counter to the theory that developers and financiers simply respond to market wide forces of supply and demand, new research from Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities researcher Dr Larry Murphy of the University of Auckland says that developers and financiers actively create and operationalise practices that govern acceptable profit margins, operational structures, and house prices. In addition, access to finance and the conditions under which finance is offered have profound impacts on residential development practices and processes.

    Under construction. Photo Louise Thomas.

    Biodiversity can enhance urban wellbeing

    The Building Better Mauriora and Urban Wellbeing team were at Auckland’s Ōtara Library over the Easter school holidays presenting urban wellbeing research news, leading biodiversity activations, and discussing how a more biodiverse Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland could enhance urban wellbeing.

    Te Mauri o te Kererū ko te Mauri o nga Tāngata

    A wellbeing activation called Te Mauri o te Kererū ko te Mauri o nga Tāngata (The Wellbeing of the Kereru is the Wellbeing of People) brought together children’s art workshops with three works exploring how birds, trees, and human lives are connected together and interdependent.

    Participants in the sound workshop at Auckland’s Ōtara Library answer the question "What sound does a kererū make?".

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