An initial interior layout design by project design partners, Tallwood. Research project partners Scion, Tallwood, and Toi Ohomai worked to develop base designs for eventual implementation as a papakāinga development for Matekuare Trust, at Tawhitiwhiti. Image: Tallwood.
Affordable housing has become a primary focus of political and economic discourse in the current socio-economic environment in New Zealand. However, the discussion rarely examines the established links between housing and human wellbeing or considers the whole-of-life affordability of housing.
Building Better’s Kāinga Tahi, Kāinga Rua: Toitū te Kāinga, Toitū te Ora, Toitū te Tangata (Healthy homes, healthy people) team have been researching these issues, especially in relation to Aotearoa New Zealand’s Māori people. Relative to the rest of the population, Māori are disadvantaged on a variety of economic, environmental, and social parameters. Examples are education, income, health, housing, and incarceration rates.
To examine these issues, Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology initiated the Toitū te Kāinga, Toitū te Ora, Toitū te Tangata research project in partnership with the Matekuare Whānau Trust, Unitec Institute of Technology, Scion, and Tallwood (an Auckland-based design and technology company).
The researchers in the partnership aim to improve our understanding of housing affordability and how living conditions affecting human health and wellbeing using the Matekuare whānau at Minginui as a study. Many whānau members in the study group lived in old and run-down housing, including in some of the worst housing in New Zealand.
The research project built upon the pre-existing Matekuare Trust planning of a papakāinga development on ancestral whenua at Tāwhitiwhiti, Te Whaiti, Eastern Bay of Plenty.
A recently released report on the project, edited by Tepora Emery and Ian McLean from Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology, examines culturally appropriate and sustainable housing design and construction solutions delivering lifetime affordability, wellbeing, and healthier living environments.
“Among the research objectives was the development of modular prefabricated housing design solutions to be used in the papakāinga development that would deliver improved life-time affordability and a high-quality indoor environment for health and wellbeing. In so doing, the research aimed to support the whānau to realise their vision of living in affordable, sustainable, and healthy homes built on their self-sustaining papakāinga (tūpuna whenua/ancestral land).”
The research project was established and run as a broad, holistic programme, using both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies, with a multi-cultural collaborative approach.
“Members of the research teams brought expertise in kaupapa and mātauranga Māori, design, construction, public health, architecture and sustainability to support the research.
“The different research strands were interwoven as a kete (flax basket), with each informing and supporting the other. Research themes included:
- design and construction of prefabricated, modular housing (including site layout for the papakāinga);
- the health and wellbeing of whānau members; and
- the environmental (living) conditions in their current housing.”
The researchers write that although this project was focussed on a particular whānau in the eastern Bay of Plenty, the research has wider implications for people experiencing similar conditions and issues throughout New Zealand. “[T]he research has specificity in that it supports a particular whānau, and generality in that it could be used to support the ambition and vision of any similar group of people.”
Read the research:
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