Message from the Director

    Kia ora koutou

    In the space of a few short months the global COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on all of our lives. During this time, for many of us, our homes have been our sanctuaries and we have discovered and explored our home neighbourhoods. We have discovered the capacity of our communities to care for each other, to practice manaakitanga and whanaungatanga.

    However, experiences through Levels 4 and 3 have highlighted inequities in our society. Not everybody has a home that is a sanctuary, or neighbourhood infrastructure and amenities that support wellbeing or that are safe and accessible. In many communities, towns, and cities our economic base has changed, and there remain future uncertainties for ourselves, and our whānau here and overseas.

    Within the challenge our priority has been the safety and wellbeing of our researchers and community partners, and this remains the case. Despite the challenging times, I have been hugely impressed by our team’s productivity and dedication to improving outcomes for all. It is vital that we take what we and others have experienced and learned through recent times, as individuals, whānau, and communities, and develop and implement our learnings to reduce inequity and make our homes, neighbourhoods, towns, communities, and cities places that allow all New Zealanders to thrive.

    On a very positive note, this past week has seen the release of the Rauika Māngai report A guide to Vision Mātauranga - Lessons from Māori Voices in the New Zealand Science Sector. The guide is a major contribution to science policy and gift to all researchers to allow us all to support and champion the evolution of Vision Mātauranga to the next level.

    Ngā mihi nui
    Ruth Berry
    BBHTC Director

    Lessons from Māori voices in NZ's Science Sector

    A guide to Vision Mātauranga
    “Good seeds grow best in fertile ground,” says Dr Jessica Hutchings, Kaiarahi of Ko ngā wā kāinga hei whakamāhora (Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities) National Science Challenge, Chair of Rauika Māngai, and member of the MBIE Science Board. “For science initiatives where Māori knowledge, people, and resources can thrive, the power structures and organisations that host and nourish these initiatives must be arable, not horrible. It is vital that decision-makers and the wider academic community allow Mātauranga Māori the opportunity to evolve. . .”

    A guide to Vision Mātauranga – Lessons from Māori voices in the New Zealand Science Sector is a comprehensive review of the application of Vision Mātauranga (VM) over the past decade and provides a guide for the effective power-sharing, resourcing, and impact-orientation of scientific endeavours. VM is the Māori research policy to unlock the innovation potential of Māori knowledge, resources, and people in New Zealand’s science system, first implemented into Vote Research, Science and Technology in July 2005.

    A house that is a home for whānau Māori

    Kids taken care off at home.
    What makes a house a home for whānau Māori? What are the things that enable the ideal and what are some of the barriers?

    In conversational interviews, Building Better researcher Dr Fiona Cram spoke with 27 Māori key informants about what makes a house a home for whānau Māori and how does housing support Whānau Ora (Māori collective wellbeing).

    For many people, our social and material environment is a source of confidence in our self-identity. But Dr Cram says that for Māori, this material environment extends beyond the four walls of a home and into the whenua (land), emphasising the importance of place for a sense of belonging.

    Regeneration and revitalisation

    The role of the built environment
    How do you create opportunities for growth and development in small cities and towns that are experiencing either stasis or decline? A Building Better Thriving Regions research team reviewed the research literature that relates to the regeneration and revitalisation of these so called ‘second-tier’ settlements. They found that much of the international literature focuses on revitalisation, due to the sense of urgency to find solutions to the problem.

    “There is a strong emphasis in the literature on understanding decline in the context of economics and demographic changes. Losing people, aka ‘urban shrinkage’, especially in some age groups, can have significant negative social effects on a town and region, and be detrimental to the built environment. Regeneration activities around the built environment usually require substantial capital investment to improve what is already there, to repurpose buildings, or demolish and rebuild,” says lead author Dr Raewyn Hills from the University of Auckland.

    Commuting to diversity

    Does commuting increase workers' exposure to difference and diversity? The uneven spatial distribution of different population subgroups within cities is well documented. Individual neighbourhoods are generally less diverse than cities as a whole. Building Better researchers David Maré from Motu and Jacques Poot investigate.

    Auckland is New Zealand’s most diverse city, but the impacts of diversity are likely to be less if different groups don’t mingle. In this study, the researchers examine measures of exposure to local cultural diversity based on where people work as well as where they live. The study also examines whether commuting alters the exposure to diversity for workers with different skills or types of job.

    People from neighbourhoods with high residential diversity tend to commute to workplace neighbourhoods that are also more diverse than average. Photo: Fabrizio Verrecchia, Pexels.

    Welcoming newcomers in regional settlements

    Studies find evidence for a community-based approach
    There are plenty of theories about how to attract and retain newcomers to a regional area, but little in the way of actual empirical evidence of success according to a recent international literature review by the BBHTC Thriving Regions researchers.

    “Several international studies are examining how to attract migrants, foster their integration, and retain them in the community, but we couldn’t find anything that actually evaluated and outlined the ‘best’ strategies,” says one of the reports co-authors, Dr Mike Mackay from AgResearch.

    Oamaru, the largest town in North Otago - renowned for its Victorian precinct. Photo: Dr Mike Mackay, AgResearch.

    Essential workers struggling with overcrowding at home

    A new Research Bulletin has found that some essential workers are dealing with overcrowding at home. The Building Better Affordable Housing for Generations team has found that while essential workers are out serving the nation they're putting their children, partners, or housemates at risk due to a lack of space. Team co-leader Dr Kay Saville-Smith spoke to Mani Dunlop on RNZ Midday Report about the findings.

    Listen Here

    Following the 'Read More' link below for a PDF of the Research Bulletin.

    Among essential worker households in rentals, 13 percent are crowded while a further 39 percent are not crowded but have no spare bedroom. Photo: Jonathan Borba, Pexels.

    Social mortgages and affordable housing

    Could some of our problems with affordable housing be solved by establishing communities based on social mortgages where there are mutual responsibilities, shared values, and close relationships? Building Better researchers James Berghan and David Goodwin from the University of Otago investigate.

    ‘Social Mortgage’ is a term we have coined to describe the principle of traditional socially based land tenure whereby social payments to communities are expected in the form of responsibilities and chores.

    The Earthsong Eco-Neighbourhood in Ranui, West Auckland, has 32 homes cemented by relationships. Photo: build magazine.

    Too many costly homes

    While more new houses are going up, they’re not necessarily ones that middle and low-income New Zealanders can afford, leaving the housing affordability crisis unresolved writes Building Better researcher Kay Saville-Smith in a recent issue of build magazine.

    New Zealand is building more homes now than it has in the last 45 years. This is critical to make up the housing supply deficit of recent years, but as Ireland and other jurisdictions overseas have found, building more houses is not the same as building houses affordable to middle and low-income households.

    Photo: Steffen Coonan, Pexels.

    Building Better sunshine value research cited internationally

    Building Better research on Valuing Sunshine has recently been cited by researchers in the United States in the Building and Environment journal.

    The paper, The value of daylight in office spaces, cites the BBHTC paper by David Fleming, Arthur Grimes, Laurent Lebreton, David Maré, and Peter Nunns, which evaluated the real estate value of direct sunlight exposure for residential properties in New Zealand. In text, the US researchers write the New Zealand research was the most similar to their own examining the impact of daylight performance on rent prices in the commercial office market.

    Photo: Jack Redgate, Pexels.

    Co-design with young Aucklanders

    A team of BBHTC researchers say there is widespread support for the idea of including of children in urban planning, but inertia because of lack of knowledge on how to go about it.
    To address this knowledge gap, the researchers explored effective methods and processes to engage with children in public space design in two public space co-design projects – the Eastern Viaduct on Auckland’s waterfront and the regeneration of the Puhinui Stream in South Auckland.
    The researchers say in each case study, on and off-site workshops enabled children to experience and explore the physical landscapes, learn about their history, ecology, and current use.

    Minister opens stage 1 of kaumātua building upgrade

    Minister Nanaia Mahuta cut the ribbon to reveal stage 1 of Rauawaawa Kaumātua Charitable Trust’s age-friendly facility upgrade on 31 January.
    It has taken three years to complete the first stage of Te Puna o Te Ora’s much-needed improvements but the Hamilton Kaumātua service provider now boasts a new and improved health wing.

    A BBHTC researcher from Phase 1 of the Challenge, Rauawaawa Kaumātua Charitable Trust chief executive, Rangimahora Reddy, says completing stage 1 of the facility upgrade is a huge achievement for the organisation, the kaumātua it serves, and all who helped bring this part of the vision to fruition.

    Minister Nanaia Mahuta (centre) celebrating the opening of stage 1 of the Rauawaawa Age-friendly Facility Upgrade with their Kaumātua Kapa Haka roopu. Photo: Megan Lacey.

    Urban regeneration and social cohesion

    Following the transfer of 2,700 Glen Innes social housing properties from Housing New Zealand to the Tamaki Regeneration Company (TRC), a collaboration between Housing New Zealand and Auckland Council, the area is in a state of flux as the aging housing stock on large sections are replaced. During the on-going development, tenants are displaced, causing stress for many low-income families who have lived in the area for decades.

    A study by BBHTC researchers Ella Henry, Diane Menzies, and Jacqueline Paul, presented at the recent State of Australian Cities Conference in Perth, found that the relationship between TRC and community organisations dealing with the breakdown and replacement of this community has been pivotal in ameliorating some of those stressors.

    Home Fires event. Photo: Dr Ella Henry.

    Rigour and rigour mortis? Planning, calculative rationality, and forces of stability and change

    Auckland skyline from Devonport
    Building Better researcher Iain White from the University of Waikato blogs about the influence of data. He examines the selection, application, and wider effects of ‘calculations’ in urban planning to better understand why, when we say we want urban areas to be more affordable and liveable, and we enjoy a stronger evidence base than ever before, were some of the outcomes deemed poor.

    For addition information, see Iain's paper published in the Journal of Urban Studies: Rigour and rigour mortis? Planning, calculative rationality, and forces of stability and change.

    A life together

    "It’s a way of living that is often mistaken for either a ‘hippy commune’ or a boarding house, but cohousing is slowly becoming a viable solution to New Zealand’s growing housing needs. It’s also a way of fighting the isolation and loneliness that is harming our collective wellbeing."

    The Spinoff's Leonie Hayden interviews Building Better researcher James Berghan about his research on social mortgages and co-housing.

    “The social mortgage component was how you can bring in a social element to housing, which means you have a contract with your neighbours and you have to put work into it but you get social benefits as well. It shifts housing from a financial asset to a community asset that everyone has a stake in,” says James.

    Thom Gill (centre) and neighbours of Cohaus muck in at the site of their future home. Photo: Prue Fea, The SpinOff.

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