News Archive 2019

NEWS: 2019

Building Better 16 eNewsletter out now

Issue 16 of the Building Better newsletter is out now, packed full of research news and views from Building Better researchers.

From the Papakāinga People Podcast: Rueben Taipari and whānau at their papakāinga, Ahipara. Photo: Desna Whaanga-Schollum.


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Changes to BBHTC’s Governance Group

Challenge host BRANZ, and all the Challenge Parties are pleased to announce changes to the governance group of Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities: He Kāinga Whakamana Tangata, Whakamana Taiao.

The Challenge, one of eleven national science challenges, is working to identify new ways of living that reflect Aotearoa’s unique identity, and respond to our changing lifestyle needs and aspirations.

The Challenge has at its heart a commitment to a Te Tiriti O Waitangi partnership approach. This has been further enhanced with the appointment of long-serving governance group members Graeme Nahkies and Gena Moses-Te Kani (Ngāti Kuia te Iwi, Kurahaupo te Waka) as co-chairs.

The Challenge has also appointed two further governance group members – Dr Hope Tupara and Hope Simonsen. They replace outgoing members Professor Richard Bedford and Ngarimu Blair.


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What is a social mortgage?

The Real Estate Institute of New Zealand writes about BBHTC research by James Berghan. James examines the different ways the built environment can deliver housing based on the idea of a “social mortgage”.

With the release of New Zealand’s first Wellbeing budget in late May 2019, it’s more obvious than ever that the built environment needs to move towards planning models that deliver social and environmental sustainability.

Deeply invested in the places they live and wanting to ensure their property provides spaces for generations, communities are looking for the option of alternative developments that aren’t subject to the same commercial demands as the open market.

While every household has their own self-sustaining home or unit, they may have shared spaces, such as a communal garden, a shared playground, or a full multi-purpose community building. Photo: UnSplash.


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Toitū te Kāinga, Toitū te Ora, Toitū te Tangata

Affordable housing has become a primary focus of political and economic discourse in the current socio-economic environment. However, the discussion rarely examines the established links between housing and human wellbeing or considers the whole-of-life affordability of housing.

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 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.

An initial interior layout design by Tallwood. Research project partners Scion, Tallwood, and Toi Ohomai worked to develop base designs for eventual implementation as a papakāinga development for the Matekuare Trust at Tawhitiwhiti. Image: Tallwood.


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How Airbnb is changing our regions

Local councils need more policy options and resources to address the impacts of accommodation sharing platforms. BBHTC Director Ruth Berry details recent research in an article for NZ Local Government Magazine.

Peer-to-peer rental platforms such as Airbnb have opened up a wide variety of affordable options for families and groups wanting self-contained properties.

Globally, Airbnb’s entry to the travel market in 2008 has significantly altered perceptions of what constitutes holiday and business accommodation.

Many Kiwi property owners have benefited from the introduction of this easy peer-to-peer shared property economy.

Yet new evidence from Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities (BBHTC) National Science Challenge suggests that for long-term residents living in towns that have a high concentration of Airbnbs, there are negative impacts, alongside the benefits for both residents and the region.

The research shows Queenstown Hill now has 204 Airbnb listings per 1000 residents. Photo: Ketan Kumawat, Pexels.


Disruptive mobility and the potential for land reclamation

If shared electric autonomous vehicles (SEAVs) become the dominant transport system in the near future; the transition from the current private car ownership system will potentially reduce the demands for car parking, and the existing open and covered car parking can be reclaimed.

This land reclamation could provide a great opportunity for planners, urban designers, and other decision makers to reuse the reclaimed lands for their required urban needs, such as public space, commercial, and also residential buildings.

A recently published working paper by Building Better Urban Wellbeing researcher Mohsen Mohammadzadeh, from the University of Auckland, investigates the potential for land reclamation based on the deployment of disruptive mobility in Auckland’s CBD and in ten other Auckland metropolitan areas.

In a future where carparks become underused, land reclamation could provide a great opportunity for planners, urban designers, and other decision makers.


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Regional development and the mana whenua of Pōkeno

During the 1990s, the township of Pōkeno was held up as an example of a declining rural Aotearoa New Zealand. By-passed from the national state highway, it lost its status as a service hub and drastic measures were introduced to revitalise the town, including renaming the town “”. Pōkeno has since undergone an unlikely transformation, with foreign investment and its location within an extended Auckland commuter zone meaning that the township has grown exponentially.

Building Better Thriving Regions researchers John Ryks, Jonathan Kilgour, Jesse Whitehead, Amy Whetu, and James Whetu have recently published a paper in the New Zealand Geographer examining the recent transformation of Pōkeno, including the historical development of the town, and uncover what has been missing in discussions about Pōkeno’s reinvention and revitalisation, namely, the place of mana whenua and Māori.

1863 map of Pōkeno showing the town and land to be auctioned. Source: Auckland Council.


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Soft infrastructure for hard times

It’s often said that the journey is as important as the destination; this turns out to be true also in disaster recovery, where a Building Better Urban Wellbeing team writes that the recovery planning process is as important as the planning objective.

In a recently published report, Soft infrastructure for hard times, the research team, Suzanne Vallance, Sarah Edwards, and Zohreh Karaminejad, from Lincoln University, and David Conradson, from the University of Canterbury, write that “a focus on the journey can promote positive outcomes in and of itself through building enduring relationships, fostering diverse leaders, developing new skills and capabilities, and supporting translation and navigation. Collaborative planning depends as much upon emotional intelligence as it does technical competence, and we argue that having a collaborative attitude is more important than following prescriptive collaborative planning formulae. Being present and allowing plenty of time are also key.”

Waimakariri District Council staff create interest in a draft long-term plan. Image: Waimakariri District Council facebook.


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Regional district and town profiles show positive results

While there are key issues facing many regional settlements, such as aging populations, the research shows that there are also many positive influences afoot in some areas.

Building Better Thriving Regions: Supporting Success in 2nd Tier Settlements researcher Malcolm Campbell has recently completed an analyse of three regional settlements, Ashburton, Timaru, and Waitaki Territorial Authority areas, using data from the 2013 New Zealand Census to give an indication of the similarities and differences between these places on a number of key measures.

He writes that it is important to recognise the economic success of the study areas. Ashburton, Timaru, and Waitaki have had further reductions in unemployment from already low levels, as well as increases in the level of employment, most notably Timaru, which is a positive story to tell. “It is reasonable to say that these areas are doing well. They are ‘healthy’ economically at present.”


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Designing walkable neighbourhoods

Having a neighbourhood where the residents are free to walk has wide-ranging benefits for the community and the individual – from the health benefits of physical activity; reducing the use of cars, which can contribute to reducing both noise and environmental pollution; enhancing stronger social connections, as a result of pedestrian encounters; to reducing social exclusion by enabling neighbourhood access for those without private transport.

A Building Better Urban Wellbeing team, Patricia Austin, Jacquelyn Collins, Kate Scanlen, and Polly Smith, have been researching what makes a great walkable neighbourhood, including whether those neighbourhoods allow for a diverse range of pedestrians.

Are suburban neighbourhoods meeting the needs of children for independent mobility and access to play?


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Green infrastructure in water-sensitive urban design fundamental

Urban areas typically alter landscapes from vegetated ground, which is able to absorb water, to a series of interconnected hard surfaces that result in large quantities of storm-water runoff scouring our waterways. In addition, this run-off can be polluted with contaminants such as metals, motor oil, garden pesticides, litter, and sediment.

This run-off requires management, but the Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) team says this isn’t just a matter of guttering in the right place and piping the excess straight to waterways, but also aesthetically pleasing urban lay-outs that promote water re-use and enhance urban liveability and human wellbeing.

Team leader Robyn Simcock, from Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research, says they’ve found that Green Infrastructure (GI), the use of a network of natural systems involving soil and vegetation, used in WSUD is fundamental to achieving wellbeing – rather than just being ‘nice to have’.

Christchurch roadside raingarden and densely planted trees provide beauty, shade, and WSUD. Photo: Robyn Simcock, Landcare Research.


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New designs offer range of options for marae

BBHTC researcher Rau Hoskins talks with Waatea News about the innovative resources for marae looking at housing programmes that were launched at Te Puea Marae in Māngere last week.

These resource were developed over the past two years by researchers funded through the Kainga Tahi, Kainga Rua programme in the Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities, National Science Challenge.

Rau Hoskins, who led the Te Manaaki o te Marae along with Unitec Professor Jenny Lee-Morgan, says marae started as the centres of kainga, but over the years most have lost their housing apart from a few kaumātua flats.


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Cultural Ambassador – The Built Environment

Dr Rebecca Kiddle, from Victoria University’s School of Architecture, discusses the concept of the ‘third place’ on Radio New Zealand’s Night show. Suburbanites are increasingly seeking greater opportunities for place attachment, community cohesion and identity, often despite the lack of any public or visible community space to facilitate these actions.

Without this public urban provision, the community has flourished in unexpected spaces. So, where do we dance?



Rebecca and her colleague Chantal Mawer, from Victoria University’s School of Geography, Environment and Earth Science, have had their research on suburban shopping malls as spaces for community health and wellbeing published online this month (ahead of print) by the Journal of Urban Design. Click the link below for a PDF copy.

Where do we dance? Photo: Rebecca Kiddle.


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Dr Amanda Yates Lead Researcher Mauri Ora and Urban Wellbeing Project

Waatea News interviews Dr Amanda Yates about her research for Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities (BBHTC) Ko Nga wa Kainga hei Whakamahorahora National Science Challenge. New Zealand could be positioned to lead the world by developing a first-ever Mauri ora or “all-of-life” urban wellbeing data tool and framework, according to Amanda’s recently published research.



For more radio interviews and podcasts check out our podcasts and audio page.


Podcast page

Radical rethink of our cities will improve urban wellbeing

New Zealand could be positioned to lead the world by developing a first-ever Mauri ora or “all-of-life” urban wellbeing data tool and framework, according to the latest findings from Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities (BBHTC) He Kāinga Whakamana Tangata, Whakamana Taiao National Science Challenge.

As high energy users and generators of planet-warming carbon emissions, cities are well-placed to take a lead in strategising for and implementing zero-carbon transitions that utilise existing technologies.

“For Māori, ora is wellbeing and Mauri is the integrative life force that connects it all – the rocks, rivers, trees, people, etc. We need to develop our cities in ways where humans are viewed as part of the environment – one where climate, biodiversity, transport, and housing infrastructure are all working in harmony to take care of ecological wellbeing,” explains lead researcher of the Mauri ora and urban wellbeing project, Dr Amanda Yates from Auckland University of Technology (AUT).

A crowd gathers to examine E Amio Haere Ana te Ao I Te Ra | Circling The Sun – Revolution Cycle installation part of Te Mana o Te Ra | The Power of the Sun solar-power, zero-carbon energy workshops and installation at the Auckland City Library, Ngā Pātaka Kōrero o Tāmaki Makaurau. Photo: Amanda Yates.


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Understanding Place: Red Zone Stories

Everyone has a different story to tell about the Red Zone surrounding the Ōtākaro Avon River. Building Better researchers from the Understanding Place research project invite you to share your stories using “Red Zone Stories”, a website and app designed at the University of Canterbury.

Red Zones Stories is a space for you to record and share your stories, memories, and hopes for the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor, whether you grew up here, have a family connection, or have ideas about how places here should look in the future.

The Red Zone Stories App is downloadable from Google Play and The App Store. With the app, a user can record their stories via text, photograph, video, etc. for an interactive map on the website. There are already many photos and videos available on the map, showing what the red zone now means to people. This information helps researchers record the different ways local residents and manawhenua respond to this place. It will also help urban planners understand what parts of the red zone are important to people and why. The research is independent from Regenerate Christchurch, but has been developed in consultation with them.

Jenny and Sam in the Red Zone. Photo: Red Zone Stories/ University of Canterbury.


Papakāinga People

NEW PODCAST: This podcast focuses on a papakāinga (settlement of homes and associated environment) in Ahipara where the whānau of Rueben Taipari (Ngāpuhi, Te Rarawa, Ngāti Kahu, Ngāi Tuhoe) are building a papakāinga of muka-reinforced, cement-stabilised rammed earth homes – or whare uku – on Rueben’s ancestral whānau whenua. Dr Rebecca Kiddle talks to Rueben, his wife, Heeni Hoterene (Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Raukawa ki te Tonga, Ngāi Tahu) and their tamariki to understand the everyday realities of life on the papakāinga. Rebecca also talks to Dr Helen Potter, a researcher working alongside the whānau to tell their story in an upcoming book on Māori Housing being produced by the Kāinga Tahi, Kāinga Rua research programme.

Rueben Taipari and whānau at their papakāinga, Ahipara. Photo: Desna Whaanga-Schollum.


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Papakāinga in the 21st Century: Going up

NEW PODCAST: Building papakāinga in urban settings where land is expensive and in short supply, is the focus of today’s papakāinga. Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei have been grappling with exactly these questions on their Orākei whenua. Dr Rebecca Kiddle explores with Anahera Rawiri from Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, alongside researchers Rau Hoskins and Irene Kereama-Royal, the notion of a ‘vertical papakāinga’. They have been working to understand whether this apartment housing typology fits well with the ways that Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei have historical lived and how they want to live in the future. This innovative exploration builds on their existing papakāinga development that draws on medium density housing typologies to use land efficiently and house as many of their whanau as possible.

Concept design for vertical papakāinga. Image: Design Tribe Architects.


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In service to homeless whānau in Tāmaki Makaurau

Just before winter 2016, Te Puea Memorial Marae (TPMM) opened their doors to anyone in desperate need of shelter and support. Following in the cultural tradition of manaakitanga and the legacy of Te Puea Hērangi, TPMM’s grassroots initiative was dubbed by the Marae, ‘Manaaki Tāngata’.

Research led by Building Better’s Associate Professor Jenny Lee-Morgan (Waikato-Tainui) and Rau Hoskins (Ngāpuhi) explores the work of the Marae, which has continued and developed with a focus on supporting whānau not only to secure housing tenancy, but also on supporting home-building to achieve whānau ora. The linked report below is part of the first phase of a two-year research project entitled ‘Te Manaaki o te Marae: The role of marae in the Tāmaki Makaurau housing crisis’.

The Manaaki Tāngata Programme Kaimahi.


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Study shows Gisborne quality of life average

Reporter Andrew Ashton from the Gisborne Herald examines the implications for Gisborne from Motu’s Research for the Building Better Homes, Towns, and Cities National Science Challenge.

At the time of the 2013 census, Gisborne was ranked around the middle of urban areas in New Zealand for quality of life and quality of business. ‘Natural’ factors such as climate have a positive impact on quality of life of places, but the study shows that Gisborne has room to improve in the quality of life and quality of business on offer to residents and prospective newbies.

Andrew interviews Motu’s research programme leader Arthur Grimes to get his views on where to from here for Gisborne.


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Building Better Newsletter Issue 15

Issue 15 of the Building Better newsletter is out now, packed full of research news and views from Building Better researchers.

Under construction. Photo: Louise Thomas.


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Moving for business or pleasure?

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.

Migrants are defined as ‘domestic’ if they lived in New Zealand five years ago and ‘international’ if they were not living in New Zealand.

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.


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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.

Hobsonville Point. Photo: Errol Haarhoff


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SHIFT: Housing as a human right

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, Paul Hunt, the Chief Commissioner at the New Zealand Human Rights Commission, outlined a human rights approach to housing and provided a way forward for action in the New Zealand context.

Paul 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.”

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.


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SHIFT: Fixing a broken system

At the SHIFT Aotearoa Conference in early June, key-note speaker, the Associate Minister of Housing and Urban Development and Minister of Māori Development, 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.”

However, she said they weren’t starting at ground zero, “We were starting with a wealth of knowledge and information about what it took to build financial capability [and] skills amongst the whānau, what it took to invest in whānau thinking about a better utilisation of their whenua in order to grow their aspiration, and what papakāinga aspirations might sit along side that.”

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


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Māori Housing 4-Part Podcast Series

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.


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Better places to live: community and housing

Lead researcher Dr Rebecca Kiddle is mentioned in this Talk Wellington article for her research “investigating (amongst other things) the extent to which modern Ao-NZ urban form systemically prioritises private space in our suburbs, cities and towns. Turns out we do this a lot, and to the detriment of the public realm and common spaces.”

The article says, “This is bad news for us collectively because it’s common and public spaces, third places that let us connect with other humans outside our household, ‘bumping into’ spaces where you can have regular, low-stakes interactions with people. ‘Bumping into’ spaces in modern towns let us quietly expand our ‘circle of empathy’ to others beyond those we select to invite to our private space (who are inevitably A Lot Like Me).”

Dr Rebecca Kiddle. Photo: Desna Whaanga-Schollum.


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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.


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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.


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Urban design can’t come from the top down

In this Ideasroom feature on Newsroom, Building Better researchers Marc Aurel Schnabel and Shuva Chowdhury from Victoria University of Wellington write about their BBHTC research project on using virtual reality tools for user collaboration in urban design, using a public-space development in Karori, Wellington, as a test case.

“Designing an urban environment involves confronting complex physical and social issues such as cultural contexts, economic situations, regulatory systems and personal and community preference.

“The design process should take these issues into account, but most of the design methods currently used by urban design professionals are ‘top down’ approaches where the designer, rather than users, dictates the process and outcomes.”

One of the obstacles preventing a better relationship between designers and citizens is the lack of tools available to visualise the space through the planning process. Photo: Lynn Grieveson/Newsroom.


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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: Louise Thomas.


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Housing advocate wants Māori inclusion helping families

A RNZ article reports on the SHIFT Aotearoa conference in Wellington earlier this month, 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.


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Māori housing experts gather under one roof

Te Ao Māori News reporter Tema Hemi covered Day 1 of the SHIFT Aotearoa Conference earlier this month, 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 says, “Māori have the right to have shelter in our own home and this land is our home so ultimately, like in so many things, I think constitutionally, Māori need to be given the authority back to work out how that can best happen.”

Lawyer and Māori researcher Moana Jackson on Māori Television.


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Treaty needs to serve as inspiration for Māori homelessness solutions – academics

The vexed issue of Māori homelessness, could a treaty-based housing solution provide the answer? Reporting on the SHIFT Conference earlier this month, Eruera Rerekura – Te Karere explores this question.

BBHTC’s Dr Ella Henry on TVNZ’s Te Karere.


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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.


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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

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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Mauriora and Urban Wellbeing
Solar-power, zero-carbon energy workshops

The Building Better Mauriora and Urban Wellbeing team were at Auckland Library over the Easter school holidays presenting urban wellbeing research news, leading solar-power activations, and discussing how we might transform Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland to a zero-carbon city.

Their solar-power drawing machine Amio I Te Ra drew attention to the power of the Sun – with each solar-powered revolution it draws a circle in black carbon. Accompanying workshops used the Sun’s energy to draw with photo-sensitive paper and power solar cameras.

E Amio Haere Ana te Ao I Te Ra | Circling the Sun [Revolution Cycle] installation: Dr Amanda Yates.
Te Mana o Te Ra workshops: Dr Kathy Waghorn.

A crowd gathers to examine E Amio Haere Ana te Ao I Te Ra | Circling The Sun – Revolution Cycle installation during Te Mana o Te Ra | The Power of the Sun solar-power, zero-carbon energy workshops and installation at the Auckland City Library, Ngā Pātaka Kōrero o Tāmaki Makaurau, on 27 and 28 April.

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.


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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.


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Practicing respectful, reciprocal, and relational co-designing

A new report Problematizing replicable design to practice respectful, reciprocal, and relational co-designing with indigenous people examines the tensions with designing among indigenous and non-indigenous people. The authors provide personal stories as Māori, Pākehā, and Japanese designers, which show accountability and articulate pluralities of practices. “In respecting design that is already rooted in local practices, we learn from these foundations and construct our practices in relation to them. For us, respect, reciprocity, and relationships are required dimensions of co-design as an engaged consciousness for indigenous self-determination.”

The report was coauthored by Desna Whaanga-Schollum from Building Better’s “Ako Ahu: Pūrākau as Support for Co-created Research Practices” research team, with colleagues Yoko Akama and Penny Hagen.

Report coauthor Desna Whaanga-Schollum.


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Job Vacancy: Principal Advisors – Te Kāhui Kainga Ora | Wellington

Te Kāhui Kainga Ora (Māori Housing) is a newly established group within the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). They are looking for two highly credible, influential professionals with strong connections to Māori, who have the capability and experience to provide strategic leadership and strong policy advice to a wide variety of stakeholders with focus on iwi partnerships across New Zealand.

Together these strategic roles will help create a platform for the development and delivery of these aspirations, navigating the housing system by working in collaboration with iwi, Māori Housing providers, sector leaders and other government agencies to ensure better housing and community outcomes for Māori.

Applications close Friday, 17 May 2019.

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

The Lincoln Planning Review has just 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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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Future-proofing Auckland: is building a sustainable city really possible?


When: 5-7pm, 10 April 2019
Where: Grand Millennium, Auckland City Centre

With Auckland’s population set to swell to 2 million by as early as 2029, growing demands on housing and infrastructure, and climate change exposing our city to impending natural disasters, future-proofing Auckland has become more important than ever before.

The way we plan, design, construct and govern our city will determine Auckland’s future viability. The world’s cities are under threat by climate change. Building a sustainable city is an integral part of Auckland’s future.

But what does the ideal sustainable city look like? And is it possible?

Building Better researcher Landscape Architect Jacqueline Paul will be on the panel.


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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.


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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.


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Building solutions for changing needs

New Zealand has struggled to deliver new builds that are accessible to all ages and abilities. Now, a Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities research project is looking at ways to deliver affordable functional housing, particularly for older people.

The Building solutions for affordable, functional housing in ageing and changing communities project is a collaboration between CRESA, Massey University, Public Policy and Research, and BRANZ.

The team expects to deliver their first research findings by late 2019.


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Waimahia Inlet affordable housing study

A new study, Developing community: Following the Waimahia Inlet affordable housing initiative, by Building Better researchers Karen Witten, Simon Opit, Emma Ferguson, and Robin Kearns, is now available on the BBHTC website.

The Waimahia Inlet is a 295-dwelling greenfield development over 16 hectares in Weymouth, on the edge of Manukau Harbour. The Waimahia Inlet development is a partnership between the Crown, The Tāmaki Collective, and three community housing providers – Te Tumu Kāinga, The New Zealand Housing Foundation, and the Community of Refuge Trust (CORT) Community Housing. This consortium of Māori organisations and community housing providers (CHPs) shared a mission to provide affordable, good-quality housing, with a focus on meeting the housing needs of Māori and Pasifika families.


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The regeneration of Oamaru

With a population of around 14,000 and climbing, the regeneration of Oamaru continues to be a New Zealand success story for the revitalisation of second-tier settlements. The town provides a primer for how to reboot a region and prevent the development of “zombie” settlements.

The Oamaru case study by Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities National Science Challenge, led by Dr Mike Mackay, Lincoln University, and involving Drs Nick Taylor and Karen Johnston, and Emeritus Professor of Planning Harvey Perkins, provides an analysis of Oamaru’s past, present, and future initiatives for regeneration. How did Oamaru become an attractive place to live, visit, work, and do business?


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Where do we dance? – PARKing space symposium


When: 8.00am to 6.00pm, Friday, 08 March 2019
Where: Cuba Street, Wellington

Where do we dance? Where do we create community, have social interactions, be kids, be teenagers, be older people, be Māori, be Pākehā, be New Zealanders in the public spaces of our cities AND what should these places look, feel, and be like?

The Building Better research team are out in force for PARKing Day in Wellington City, delivering research news and views about how we might transform our urban environments.

Te Manaaki o Te Marae

In the winter of 2016, Te Puea Memorial Marae – based in South Auckland’s Mangere – was spurred to action to provide safe haven for vulnerable whānau seeking emergency housing.

In the legacy of Te Puea Herangi, the Marae opened its doors to homeless whānau across the Tāmaki rohe. Initiating this kaupapa Māori response was vital. While the grassroots programme disrupted the wider Auckland housing narrative by revealing the ‘crisis’, for whānau Māori who were homeless, the Manaaki Tāngata E Rua transitional housing programme offered not only a chance to get off the streets but ultimately by taking a uniquely Māori approach – based on manaaki tāngata and tikanga Māori principles in general – many families were effectively transitioned into homes and stable living environments.


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PM’s Chief Science Advisor says hui with Māori experts ‘Ka rawe!’

Building Better’s Director Māori Dr Jessica Hutchings chaired a Rauika Māngai hui this month for the Māori experts who are playing leading and advising roles within each of the 11 National Science Challenges. Hosted by the SfTI Challenge, the group’s special guest was Professor Juliet Gerrard, the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor.


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Success in Regional Settlements team delivers results at RSA Conference

Building Better’s Supporting Success in Regional Settlements research team was out in force to deliver research results from Phase 1 at the Regional Studies Association of Australasia Conference, held this week in Christchurch. Led by Emeritus Professor Harvey Perkins, the team examined the lived and comparative experience of regional small-town New Zealand.

“Part of our mission is to interpret and support local efforts to make these places more attractive to live in, visit, work and do business. Identifying practical solutions for settlement regeneration success is a central goal.

“The research team is examining the broad contexts of regional settlements, their trajectories, and how residents are defining their situation and engaging in initiatives to improve their towns economically, socially, culturally, and environmentally,” says Harvey.

Places that are attractive to live in tend to be sunny, dry and near water. Kerikeri River. Photo: Louise Thomas.


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Māori designers a hit at RAIC

In May 2017, members of Ngā Aho, a national network of Māori design professionals that includes several Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities researchers, attended and presented at the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) International Indigenous Architecture and Design Symposium in Ottawa.

The researchers, including Rau Hoskins, Jade Kake, Jacqueline Paul, Rebecca Kiddle, and Desna Whaanga-Schollum, delivered a series of seven short, sharp presentations done in the Pecha Kucha model. Known as a “Kora” event, it represented the diversity of Māori design practice – igniting conversation and ideas.

Proceedings from the conference are now available and include: The evolution of Marae Aotearoa, New Zealand as a critical factor in cultural resilience by Rau Hoskins; Papakāinga Design Principles and Applications by Jade Kake; Te Aranga Design Principles by Jacqueline Paul; Decolonizing the Colonial City by Rebecca Kiddle; and Ngā Aho: Network of Māori Design Professionals by Desna Whaanga-Schollum.


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Virtual environments in urban design

Designing an urban environment involves complex physical and social issues. The design decision-making process should be configured to deal with these complex issues, but most of the design methods used by urban professionals are top-down approaches, where the scope for involving laypeople in the design process is poor.

A lack of visual information and tools in the design process doesn’t allow end users to speculate on new design ideas before they are built. In addition, to address construction and the post-occupancy period details, design processes can become cumbersome. This level of detail seldom helps people to understand design ideas.

A new study by Building Better’s Shaping Places: Future Neighbourhoods team members Professor Marc Aurel Schnabel and Shuva Chowdhury, Victoria University of Wellington, develops a design discussion platform to produce urban forms by employing virtual tools.


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Auckland’s housing supply challenge

According to future projections, Auckland’s population will reach two million in 2033. Since the city is already afflicted by a serious housing crisis, at the beginning of 2017 the newly elected Mayor Phil Goff set up a task force. A Building Better Homes Towns and Cities National Science Challenge think-piece commissioned from Unitec researcher Paola Trapani explores the role that designers should play in this field. Its ideological position is that the house cannot and should not be considered as a commodity on the free market; nor should focus solely be on bringing down prices by increasing the number of houses on offer. Over time, housing might evolve to being more about social (use) value than exchange value.

Several new reports are now available from the research programme Auckland’s housing supply challenge: A Unitec response to the Mayoral Housing Taskforce Report. Please see our publications page for other titles.


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Power to the people: Maia Ratana

Architecture researcher Maia Ratana is on a mission to empower young Māori to take control of their spaces.

“I can remember when buildings first began to fascinate me,” Maia Ratana recalls. “I was seven. Ever since, I’ve compulsively picked up pen and paper to map out floor plans.”

Currently studying for her Masters in Architecture at Unitec, Maia is one of the three emerging researchers who make up the rangatahi ahu for Kāinga Tahi, Kāinga Rua – the flagship Māori housing research programme for the Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities (BBHTC) National Science Challenge.

Read Maia’s interview in Architecture Now.

Maia Ratana. Photo: Desna Whaanga-Schollum.


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