Message from the Chair

    Kia ora koutou

    At the end of the first 18 months of funded research, BBHTC teams are producing a wide range of outputs from our Strategic Research Areas and projects funded through contestable processes. This newsletter contains comments on many of the major articles, reports and events completed over the past two months.

    On Monday 20 August, a team of around 25 researchers, stakeholders, governance and management team members met with the assessment panel that MBIE has commissioned to review our progress to date and our plans for the next five years.

    This was a very constructive and positive meeting. Not surprisingly, there are things the panel thought we might address that weren't in our future strategy but, overall, I was very encouraged by both their response to what we are doing and proposing to do, and to the mix of expertise we had assembled to address the Challenge objective "to improve the quality and supply of housing and create smart and attractive urban environments".

    We will be informed of the Science Board's decision regarding funding for the period July 2019-June 2024 in early November and will send you a further Building Better Newsletter then.

    Ngā mihi nui
    Richard Bedford
    August 2018

    Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities reveals research focus

    Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities (BBHTC) - Ko ngā wā kāinga hei whakamāhorahora - has announced the key themes of their research in the year ahead. Continuing to address New Zealand’s housing needs, the National Science Challenge is digging deeper into housing for our ageing population and how we can build spaces for generations. It is also investigating the delivery of more affordable, healthy homes and the development of attractive urban environments with smart, safe, walkable streets. Thriving regions are also at the forefront of upcoming research, identifying how we can plan and build homes towns and cities that create strong communities.

    Intergenerational kaumātua village helps Kirikiriroa achieve age-friendly status

    An iwi-led housing project designed to ensure Kaumātua of Kirikiriroa are safe, secure and well cared for is being recognised for its role in helping Hamilton become New Zealand’s first age-friendly city.

    Te Rauawaawa Kaumātua Charitable Trust provides free health, social, educational, cultural, recreational, housing and transport support services to those over the age of 55. The village was developed and is owned by Te Runanga o Kirikiriroa and is a Kaumātua governed and led organisation.

    Special Housing Areas: Spaces in Contention

    A new report by Building Better researcher Dr Bev James considers public consultation associated with the establishment of Special Housing Areas (SHAs) in the Western Bay of Plenty sub-region, how it affected decision-making about SHA developments, and what it tells us about people’s views of our homes, towns and cities.

    Overall, 69 percent of the 603 submissions on SHA proposals were opposed, and the remainder were either supportive or neutral. Those opposed cited a range of perceived social and environmental impacts. Read the report for more details on public perceptions of SHAs.

    Designing housing decision-support tools for resilient older people

    Our ageing populations make it critical that older people continue to live and participate in their communities. ‘Ageing in place’, rather than in residential care, is desired by older people themselves and promoted as policy in many countries. Its success, both as policy and practice, depends on housing. House performance, resilience, functionality and adaptability are all essential to maintaining independence. Three New Zealand research programmes have worked with older people to investigate issues around housing, ‘ageing in place’ and how older people and communities can become resilient to adverse natural events. Building Better’s Drs Bev James and Kay Saville-Smith from the Improving the architecture of decision-making team outline the research programmes in a paper published this month in the prestigious journal Architectural Science Review.

    Impact of covenants on affordable housing

    New Zealand has an acute and persistent under-supply of housing, particularly affordable housing. It seems that privately-imposed covenants on residential land, which are growing in number, are having an almost unreported impact on affordable housing and housing affordability according to a new report by Craig Fredrickson and Kay Saville-Smith from the Improving the architecture of decision-making team.

    Ngā Kōrero speaker series: The housing crisis conversation

    Video livestream from St Peter's on Willis. Can the Housing Crisis be solved? What is Wrong with Housing? St Peter’s on Willis Ngā Kōrero speaker series asked these questions of the Hon. Phil Twyford, Minister for Housing and Urban Development and Transport; Dr Kay Saville-Smith, BBHTC researcher and Director of CRESA; Taimalieutu Kiwi Tamasese, Coordinator Pacific Section, Family Centre; and Paul Gilberd, New Zealand Housing Foundation. View the video link below to hear their replies:

    Following the money: Understanding the building industry’s exit from affordable housing production

    Research Bulletin: New Zealand’s housing under-supply is more than a temporary problem of adjustment associated with our so-called ‘rock star’ economy. Most acute is an under-supply of affordable housing. There have been lots of explanations proffered as to the reasons for under-supply and heated house prices ranging from claims of excessive building and materials costs to land-banking pushing up the costs of development to restrictions and costs arising from district planning and resource management. What has largely been ignored, however, is the NZ Productivity Commission’s 2012 report suggesting that the building industry has largely deserted building in the lower value segments of the housing market.

    Tiny Houses

    An article, outlining the tiny house movement in New Zealand, in the July/August issue of the New Zealand Geographic.

    Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities National Science Challenge gets a mention for research analysing the property titles registered in Auckland over the past three decades, and the part that covenants can play to restrict smaller, affordable housing at a time when New Zealand desperately needs it.

    The figures are still being finalised, but researcher Dr Kay Saville-Smith says it looks like about 55 per cent of Auckland residential titles in 2017 had a covenant - compared with less than 10 per cent in 1980. Very often, those covenants mandate large dwellings, she says.

    “The worst I’ve seen is a minimum of 245 square metres. You’ll hear a lot about how affordable housing is affected by planning regulations; that’s a typical public narrative. You don’t hear a lot about the use of covenants - anyone can put them on, but they’re very hard to get rid of.”

    Three new publications available

    Three new publications are available from the team at Improving the architecture of decision-making. These are: Tenure insecurity and exclusion: older people in New Zealand’s rental market; Revitalising the production of lower value homes: Researching dynamics and outcomes; and Declining egalitarianism and the battle for affordable housing in New Zealand. All three papers were presented at the European Network of Housing Researchers Conference in Uppsala, Sweden, 27-29 June 2018.

    Government Minister says elderly housing needs cannot be overlooked

    What is the future of housing for our elderly? Minister for Seniors Tracey Martin weighs in on the affordable housing debate. Stuff article which includes reference to a paper written by BBHTC's Dr Kay Saville-Smith and Dr Bev James, as part of a consultation process about the ageing population, highlighting how New Zealand's future older population will mostly live in rentals, as home ownership rates have continued to fall over the last 15 years.

    NZ 'not geared for affordable housing'

    Smaller housing developers are being locked out by bureaucracy costs, and experts say the government must connect people with expertise so affordable housing, particularly for Māori, can be built. Listen to Building Better researcher Ella Henry from the Shaping Places: Future Neighbourhoods team talking Māori affordable housing this week on Radio New Zealand's Nine to Noon programme.

    Photo: RNZ, Claire Eastham-Farrelly.

    Kāinga Tahi, Kāinga Rua - Project Team Hui

    On 17 and 18 June, Te Herenga Waka hosted around 30 Māori researchers connected to the Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities National Science Challenge. Under the banner of the Kāinga Tahi, Kāinga Rua strategic research area, and led by Director Māori, Dr Jessica Hutchings, the hui provided opportunities for kairangahau to share their ideas, methods and approaches on how to actively support Māori aspirations for long-term affordable and healthy housing that meets the needs of their communities.

    Urbanism NZ Conference

    The 2018 Urbanism New Zealand Conference held in Wellington in mid May was two days of high-quality content shared by expert speakers discussing the urban environment as a whole system of complex processes. There were a significant number of researchers from the National Science Challenge: Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities, both as participants and speakers.
    Dr Rebecca Kiddle discussed The Death and Life of Great Aotearoa New Zealand Cities: Values and Justice in the Urban Realm. This presentation acknowledged the history and importance of the Treaty of Waitangi, how the Treaty principles are upheld, and the responsibility of practitioners to think about how their work takes on the role of the urbanist, as an advocate to support justice and equity.

    Why Waste Water?

    What happens to the water that gurgles down your shower drain? For many people it disappears out of sight and out of mind, but not for civil engineers, town planners or those working in wastewater treatment. They are busy maintaining the intricate infrastructure that takes care of your wastewater so you don’t have to think about it. A blog post from Scion's Lisa Tovey outlines the work of the BBHTC's Novel Wastewater Processing team led by Daniel Gapes at Scion.

    Unlocking transport innovation

    A working paper to understand the regulatory and decision-making logics, processes and practices that determine the street design solutions that become part of our built environment and transport infrastructure has recently been published by the Architecture of Decision-making research team. Report authors Simon Opit and Karen Witten consider a proposal to install a novel type of pedestrian crossing, as part of a neighbourhood intervention, to investigate the architecture of decision-making that influences our urban environments.

    Festival of Architecture 2018

    Throughout New Zealand, 14 – 23 September 2018
    Start date:14 - 23 September 2018
    Where: Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Nelson, Tauranga, and Hamilton.

    The Festival of Architecture will comprise an engaging and enjoyable programme of events that aim to celebrate and investigate the role of architecture in improving the quality of life in New Zealand’s towns and cities.

    An overarching goal of the Festival of Architecture is to match people of all ages and levels of architectural interest with activities that will extend their knowledge and understanding of architecture and design.

    To this end, the 2018 Festival of Architecture programme includes a variety of mostly free events: speakers and presentations, building and walking tours, exhibitions, open studios (meet a ‘real’ architect!), design competitions, debates and workshops.

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