Message from the Chair

    Kia ora koutou

    We were delighted to hear on Saturday, 17 November from the Minister of Research, Science and Technology, Dr Megan Woods, that all of the National Science Challenges will be receiving funding to support a further five years of research.

    In the case of the Building Better Homes Towns and Cities NSC, the funding approved is $24.3 million (excl. GST) for the period 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2024. The Challenge’s Governance Group and its Science Leadership Teams have developed an ambitious future strategy for this period (a link to the Strategy for Phase II is contained in this Newsletter).

    In its letter to the Challenge Director, the Science Board noted, amongst other things, that, “BBHTC has established a strong research platform through its relationships, researchers, and Vision Mātauranga capability to successfully progress its strategy.” They observed with regard to plans for the next five years that, “The Future Strategy is well-aligned to national and sectoral strategies, polices and plans. As its research matures, the Science Board considers the Challenge has an opportunity to build on its relationships with government representatives and add value to, and potentially influence, the national agenda on housing and urban development. MBIE looks forward to the Challenge taking up a leadership role.”

    The Challenge is working closely with members of the new Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, as well as with a wide range of community housing providers across the spectrum, to transform the systems and organisations that shape built environments, to deliver homes and communities throughout Aotearoa that are hospitable, productive and protective for all New Zealanders.

    We have an exciting research agenda for the next five years and we look forward to sharing ideas about this with you over the next few months.

    Ngā mihi nui
    Richard Bedford
    Chair, BBHTC Governance Group

    Building Better performing well, $24.3m approved for next five years

    The Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities National Science Challenge is set to continue to develop and deliver world-leading research into our built environment.

    Following the National Science Challenges midway review, the MBIE Science Board has approved Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities National Science Challenge phase II funding of $24.3M, bringing its total investment in the Challenge to $47.9M over 10 years.

    The funding announcement was made by Minister of Research, Science and Innovation Megan Woods on 17 November, with this second period of investment to run from 1 July 2019.

    The Science Board’s approval follows a positive mid-way review of the 11 Challenges.

    Strategy for Phase II released

    What will success look like in the long-term in the areas of housing and urban development after the next five years of research funded by the Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities | Ko ngā wā Kāinga hei Whakamāhorahora National Science Challenge (BBHTC)?

    Following the National Science Challenges midway review, Building Better is releasing its strategy for phase II, where our innovative research programme will help ensure that, on the occasion of the bicentenary of Te Tiriti o Waitangi in 2040, “housing shortages and homelessness” and “house prices and affordability” are no longer significant factors that negatively impact the life course and outcomes for New Zealanders, as they are doing today.

    AKO: Your participation matters

    AKO is the Kāinga Tahi, Kāinga Rua kaupapa Māori knowledge production and sharing platform. The KTKR e-panui is one thread of AKO, highlighting learnings, progress, opportunities, and events specific to the KTKR research streams. Sign up at

    Amenities and the attractiveness of New Zealand cities

    A new report by Building Better’s Supporting Success in Regional Settlements team, Kate Preston, Arthur Grimes, David Maré, and Stuart Donovan, analyses the factors that attract people and firms (and hence jobs) to different settlements across New Zealand. The team compiled quality of life and quality of business indicators for 130 settlements from 1976 to 2013, using census rent and wage data.

    "Households and firms prefer different amenities, which means places with high quality of life often have low quality of business. For instance, households appear to prefer sunny, dry locations near water, while firms appear to prefer to locate in larger cities," says Dr Grimes.

    See also the coverage in the New Zealand Herald and Radio New Zealand.

    Resilience and housing markets

    Research has found that some groups are inadvertently privileged in the housing market by existing resilience policy. Building Better’s Improving the architecture of decision-making Principal Investigator, Dr Iain White, and colleague Dr Graham Squires have published a report on resilience and housing markets in a top international journal, Land Use Policy. The report, Resilience and housing markets: Who is it really for?, examines how resilience theory and rhetoric relating to the economy and housing markets has been translated into policy and practice. The research includes a case study of Auckland, with a nationally dominant housing market and high unaffordability.

    “By bringing these selectivities and limits to light we argue for a shift in focus away from an institutional frame to one with a deeper understanding of both the balance of an economy and the wider forces that create and reproduce housing markets.”

    Te Aranga Māori Design Principles

    Landscape architect graduate Jacqueline Paul (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Tūwharetoa), from the Shaping Places: Future Neighbourhoods team, and landscape architect William Hatton (Ngāti Kahungunu, Rongomaiwahine, Rangitāne, Ngāti Raukawa, Muaūpoko) write on Te Aranga Māori Design Principles developed by the Auckland Council in conjunction with mana whenua to provide practical guidance for designers shaping the city’s built environment.

    Hape - Protect Ihumatao. Photo: Yamen Jawish.

    Concepts of Neighbourhood

    The Shaping places: Future Neighbourhoods research programme is focused on researching liveable and well-designed neighbourhoods, including houses, which contribute to successful towns and cities. It is seeking to develop our understanding of the principles and processes that create more successful neighbourhoods. This includes both the physical and social structure of neighbourhoods. Within this context, researcher Dr Natalie Allen has developed a literature review. This working paper is designed to offer a frame of reference for subsequent research into New Zealand’s neighbourhood context and to provide an overview of why considering the concept of neighbourhood is important.

    Renting for the over 65s

    Dr Kay Saville-Smith discusses the burgeoning renters sector on Radio New Zealand's Lately with Karyn Hay, predicting that in 20 years' time more than half of those over 65 will be renting - and even now many are turning to flatting.

    Cultural landscape approach to design at ICOMOS

    Integrating Kaupapa Māori and Te Aranga design principles into design processes was the theme of a paper presented by Building Better researchers Jacqueline Paul and Jade Kake at the ICOMOS 2018 conference in Suva, Fiji earlier this month. The aim of the conference was to share knowledge, celebrate the rich culture of the Pacific, and discuss common issues of heritage conservation across the region.

    Jade reflected on her experiences of the conference, finding some presentations troubling, while others were uplifting.

    Attending the ICOMOS 2018 conference, from left, Jade Kake, Gordon Edward (from Vanuatu), Jacqueline Paul. Gordon was also funded by the New Zealand Government to attend the conference. Photo: Jade Kake.

    Action-packed month for New Zealand’s housing sector

    Throughout November, planners, policymakers and the public gathered around the country to look at how to plan and build in ways that create more connected communities.

    Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities (BBHTC) - Ko ngā wā kāinga hei whakamāhorahora - sponsored a number of key events to inform how we deliver affordable, healthy homes, create attractive, functional urban neighbourhoods and build Māori housing.

    Designed to disrupt: A digital tool for urban regeneration

    Building Better's Next Generation Information for Better Outcomes researchers Rita Dionisio and Mirjam Schindler discuss the new Envision Scenario Planner (ESP) in a column in Architecture Now magazine. The ESP is a free, web-based geo-spatial planning tool that uses digital, evidence-based information to assist the exploration of urban regeneration scenarios at a neighbourhood level.

    Remaking community

    Models of land administration often promote the formalisation of land under multiple ownership to a more individualised, Western style of tenure, such as the British system of land tenure imposed on a communal Māori society. However, the dangers for Māori land under multiple ownership are that Māori values might become diluted or even lost in this transition as social responsibilities become divorced from land rights. Recognising this, planners of some Māori land development projects have sought to reintroduce key communal or socially-based tenure principles to the planning equation. But what are those principles? Are they succeeding? Do some principles produce better outcomes than others? And why might they work in some instances but not others?

    Building Better's Next Generation Information for Better Outcomes researchers James Berghan, Dave Goodwin, and Lyn Carter from the University of Otago presented and published research into community land ownership at the Remaking Cities conference in Melbourne earlier this year.

    Te Puea Memorial Marae host hui for urban homelessness

    Te Puea Memorial Marae and researchers from Ko ngā wā kāinga hei whakamāhorahora - the Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities (BBHTC) National Science Challenge - held their first symposium about their research and shared insights that centre on the work of the Marae to address urban homelessness. The hui was held at Te Puea Memorial Marae in Auckland on Wednesday 19 September 2018.

    For the past year, the research team has been working with the Marae to co-develop the Te Manaaki o te Marae research programme.

    Key to the research is to better understand why their Manaaki Tāngata E Rua transitional housing programme is so successful at supporting Whānau Māori who are homeless.

    See also the coverage on Māori TV, NZ Herald, and Radio New Zeland.

    Photo: Director Māori Jessica Hutchings, left, and Challenge Director Ruth Berry at Te Puea Memorial Marae.

    ESP finalist in Asia-Pacific Spatial Excellence Awards

    A web-based urban planning tool, Envision Scenario Planner (ESP), developed by the researchers in the Next Generation Information for Better Outcomes research team was one of three finalists in the Asia-Pacific Spatial Excellence Awards (2018) in the Environment and Sustainability category.

    The ESP tool allows local government and other key stakeholders to make informed decisions about the types of urban regeneration proposed. It allows planners and decision-makers to assess the impact that different urban designs, building typologies, and open spaces will have on a range of environmental and social outcomes, for example, carbon emissions, water management, jobs and social amenities created.

    Who cares? Insights from social media

    Our top three stories on social media this month provide insight on what topics are important to our communities and where we can create further impact through off-line engagement.

    • Big groups need to be able to own land but how can we develop in ways proven to strengthen communities? "Remaking Communities" – research from Building Better's Next Generation Information for Better Outcomes researchers James Berghan, Dave Goodwin, and Lyn Carter from the University of Otago. See the post.
    • Kicking off the Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga Indigenous Futures conference, including a pre-conference workshop with Te Maanaki o te Marae team about innovating mātauranga and how we can cross-collaborate through Kaupapa Māori research programmes. See the post.
    • Rita Dionsio and Mirjam Schindler write about their spatial digital tool for urban regeneration: A link to Building Better’s first monthly column with Architecture Now. See the post.

    Join the conversation. Facebook @buildingbetterNSC Twitter @buildbetternz #buildingbetternz #kaingatahikaingarua

    Virtual reality for urban design decisions

    A new study by Building Better Shaping Places: Future Neighbourhoods research team members Prof. Marc Aurel Schnabel and Shuva Chowdhury investigates using virtual reality (VR) to create user-friendly interfaces to generate and visualise urban form. Typically, current urban design processes can’t visualise urban form in real time during the decision-making stage. Virtual environment design instruments offer a realm to generate, visualise and analyse urban form. The researchers believe that engaging stakeholders using a VR design platform can reduce the gap between design intent and design outcomes leading to a more favourable design process.

    Weaving the Strands

    When: 02-05 April 2019
    Where: Napier
    NZPI invites planners and allied professionals from government, corporate, and iwi groups, to join us in Napier for the 2019 Planning Conference Weaving the Strands. During the conference we will highlight how water quality and coastal hazards will influence future planning and development. We will focus on historic heritage buildings, Māori sites, and the social, cultural, and future planning issues (such as disruptive technologies) that are rapidly changing our world.

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