News Archive 2020

NEWS: 2020

Building Better 18 eNewsletter out now

Issue 18 of the Building Better newsletter is out now, packed full of research news and views from Building Better researchers.

Airbnb growth in Waitaki, from July 2018 to July 2019, saw the number of short-term rentals rise from 263 to 322. An increase in Airbnb accommodation reduces the number of long-term rentals available, resulting in rental price increases. Read all about it in the latest Building Better eNewsletter.


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Kaumātua launch Māori-designed cookie cutters

The Rauawaawa Kaumātua Charitable Trust (RKCT), a research partner of Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities, has been investigating social enterprise initiatives that kaumātua and kuia in the village at Kirikiriroa (Hamilton) can launch to support not only their own ‘he kāinga pai rawa’ journeys and quality of life, but also strenthen their ties with the wider community and support the ongoing hauora and wellbeing of the village community.

At the end of November the Trust launched three Kuki Reka Kani (Māori-designed cookie cutters), lovingly named and inspired by its kaumātua, at its facility in Frankton, Hamilton.

RCKT chairperson, Owen Purcell says the enterprising kaumātua are extremely proud to celebrate a product they not only inspired but helped shape – in the form of pāua (abalone), pikorua (single twist), and kete (basket).

“I’m certain they’ll now want to do much more in the innovation area, and our job at Rauawaawa is to create an environment which supports them to do just that,” he says.


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Building solutions for people with dementia

Almost 70% of people living with dementia continue to do so in their own homes, rather than in residential care, despite this, research about building design solutions has primarily focused on residential care.

Building Better Homes and Spaces researchers have recently published two literature reviews examining research related to dementia-friendly housing design. They identify the housing issues for those living with dementia and the gaps around the existing research.

Lead researcher Dr Bev James said housing poses a challenge for many people with dementia, since cognitive impairments can hinder their ability to engage with and adapt to their living environment.

“Ideally, housing should address and adapt to their changing needs. In the review we focussed on building design elements that address entrance and exit solutions; self-navigation; day-to-day self-management and independence; enjoyment and ambience of the home; and the mitigation of behavioural issues that might lead to institutionalisation.”


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Searching for community wellbeing in Oamaru

Regions around New Zealand are striving to create positive futures. To do so, the issues that need to be considered are wide and varying and include the future of work in rural areas and provincial towns, the supply of workers, demographic changes, and the supply of suitable housing and social services.

The Building Better Thriving Regions research team has recently published results from their Oamaru case study for the Waitaki Housing Task Force. Their report is to help guide an informed district housing strategy for the district as well as providing ongoing research of interest to other regional programmes.

Lead researcher Dr Nick Taylor says for community groups to establish a strategic approach to housing anywhere in New Zealand, the first step is to gather sufficient information on the population, housing need, areas and locations, and potential responses.

A rejuvenated waterfront in Oamaru contributes to the area’s prosperity and wellbeing. Photo: Mike Mackay, AgResearch.


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Defining functional labour market geography

Building Better Thriving Regions researchers Dr Dave Maré and Ben Davies have been delving into the nitty gritty of how to define the geography of interactions between employers and employees, and have recently published a methodology on how to define ‘functional labour market areas’.

Dave, a senior research fellow at Motu Economic and Public Policy Research, says defining the geography of a functional labour market is important for analysing spatial patterns of economic activity. “Traditionally, we might use administrative labour market areas, but these types of boundaries don’t necessarily capture the actual interactions that are going on within these populations, for example, the effects of commuting networks to deliver workers.”

Administrative labour market areas don’t necessarily capture the effects of commuting networks to deliver workers to firms. Photo: Craig Boudreaux, Unsplash.


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Older people’s housing experiences during COVID-19 response

Older people’s homes provide safety, security, and wellbeing – ideally with care and support to assist ageing in place. During the COVID-19 pandemic response at levels 3 (restrictions) and 4 (lockdown), the home-based bubble became the first line of protection and defence against the virus and was crucial to people’s ability to physically distance, quarantine, or isolate.

During this time, the home’s ability to support older people was especially critical with issues such as food security and accessing home-based care services being tested. A new research bulletin by Building Better researcher Dr Bev James from the Homes and Spaces for Generations team draws out key issues from interviews with fifteen community organisations and housing providers in eight locations throughout the country providing essential services during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Some community organisations have developed new ways of communicating with seniors and expanded existing channels in response to the limitations observed during the COVID-19 response. Photo: Nick Karvounis, UnSplash.


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Close to Home: Could second dwellings be a solution to the housing supply crisis?


What: Stuff Close to home news item, article and video by Nelson reporter Tim Newman

Could dividing your property into smaller flats or building a granny flat be the “silver bullet” to ease New Zealand’s housing supply crisis?

In a 2017 Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities report, it was estimated there were about 180,000 houses suitable for partitioning in New Zealand (according to 2013 census data).

Nelson City Councillor Matt Lawrey, left, and Architect Peter Olorenshaw at the site of a tiny house, built by Lou Perkins in Nelson. Photo: Martin De Ruyter/Stuff.


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Close to home: Why we need social housing more than ever


What: Stuff Close to home news item, article by Nelson reporter Samantha Gee

In the last 30 years, New Zealand’s population has grown by 1.2 million and around 90,000 homes have been built by the Government, local councils and community housing providers. Samantha Gee reports on the growing demand for social housing.

The article includes an interview with Building Better Homes and Spaces researcher Dr Kay Saville-Smith.

Carrie Mozena, director of Nelson Tasman Housing Trust with homes built by the trust in the Brook Valley, Nelson. Photo: Martin De Ruyter/Stuff.


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The price of Airbnb
The impact on long-term rental availability in Waitaki

Airbnb short-term rental accommodations have been sprouting like weeds in response to regional initiatives attracting people to New Zealand’s Deep South. This includes both in and around the town of Oamaru and in the small towns and villages up the Waitaki Valley that benefit from the flow of visitors by road and bicycle from the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail.

The trail, running from the base of iconic Aoraki Mt Cook to the world’s Steam Punk capital, Oamaru, prior to COVID-19 travel restrictions was fast becoming a tourism hotspot. Picked by Frommer’s Travel Guides as one of the world’s top 16 attractions, the dramatic natural landscapes and ready sightings of some of New Zealand’s rarest wildlife were turning into an economic boon for the Waitaki Valley, with businesses springing up along the trail to support burgeoning visitor numbers.

Airbnb growth in Waitaki, from July 2018 to July 2019, saw the number of short-term rentals rise from 263 to 322. An increase in Airbnb accommodation reduces the number of long-term rentals available, resulting in rental price increases. Photo: Mike Mackay, AgResearch.


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Social impacts of cycle trails on small towns and settlements

Prior to the Covid-19 lockdowns, Building Better researchers Dr Mike Mackay, Dr Nick Taylor, and Emeritus Prof Harvey Perkins assessed the impacts of the South Island’s Alps to Ocean (A2O) cycle-trail. The study focussed on the sustainability of tourist trails and how associated tourism initiatives were working together to improve the economic, social, and environmental performance of the town of Oamaru and settlements in the Waitaki Valley.

Positive outcomes are expected for local business and employment, along with an enhanced recreational environment and heritage protection. Importantly, the initiative has received funding from central government and has the involvement of the Waitaki District Council.

The A2O is a 300km, mostly off-road, cycle trail that descends from the base of Aoraki Mt Cook in the national park, through several small settlements located in the Waitaki Valley, before reaching the regional town of Oamaru on the Pacific coast. Photo: Mike Mackay, AgResearch.


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Drivers of urban development in New Zealand

New research by Stuart Donovan, Dr Arthur Grimes, and Dr David Maré uses census data to reveal the drivers that influence urban development in New Zealand. The modelling looks at data from 132 New Zealand towns and cities over a 37-year period. It highlights the relationship between local amenities that benefit firms and/or benefit residents, availability of wages and jobs, and the cost and supply of housing.

“Consistent with what we find in many countries around the world, New Zealand firms are attracted to locate in our larger cities,” says Arthur, a Senior Fellow at Motu Economic and Public Policy Research and a Building Better Thriving Regions Principal Investigator.

“In contrast, it seems that residents are attracted to smaller places: as cities grow, factors such as increased congestion make the larger cities less appealing to residents.”

The cost of building new housing rises as population increases in a city. Photo: Chris Gray on Unsplash.


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Where do bright young things settle after graduation?

A highly-educated population is one of the key drivers of local growth and prosperity. One of the main challenges facing non-metropolitan regions is the attraction and retention of tertiary educated graduates.

Local decision-makers wish to attract and retain young qualified people, but what are the specific drivers that encourage graduates to settle in a particular place? What are the chances of students returning upon graduation? Is there potential to attract other graduates to the area?

Graduates from all fields of study other than agriculture are attracted to locate in places that have high overall quality of business, which tend to be the large cities. High quality of life is also an attractor for some students but its impact is more diffuse than is the pull of income opportunities.


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Building Better 17 eNewsletter out now

Issue 17 of the Building Better newsletter is out now, packed full of research news and views from Building Better researchers.

What makes a house a home for whānau Māori? What are the things that enable the ideal and what are some of the barriers? Read all about it in the latest Building Better eNewsletter.


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Lessons from Māori voices in NZ’s science sector

“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.

The Rauika Māngai ‘assembly of representatives’ from the 11 National Science Challenges and Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga.


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Vacancies: Challenge Governance Group Member & Co-Chair

The Challenge is looking for two new governance group members to join a strong, established team. A potential co-chair candidate would be welcome from amongst successful applicants.

The National Science Challenges are designed to find solutions to some of the large, complex issues that matter most to New Zealanders. The Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities: He Kāinga Whakamana Tangata, Whakamana Taiao Challenge aims to address some of the significant issues facing our country. Its activities focus on areas such as housing supply, the quality of our housing, and the vulnerabilities and underperformance of some of our urban environments.

The role of the Challenge Governance Group is to provide oversight and direction to this important National Science Challenge.

A house that is a home for whānau Māori

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.

“Likewise, the social environment extends to encompass whānau who may live in multiple dwellings, as well as whakapapa (genealogy) connections with tipuna (ancestors) who have passed and mokopuna (grandchildren) yet to be born.”


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Regeneration & 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.


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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.


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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.

Photo: Dr Mike Mackay, AgResearch.


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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.

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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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Contextual brief for Phase II of the Urban Wellbeing & Development Research Programme

BBHTC researchers Rita Dionisio, from the University of Canterbury, and Amanda Yates, from AUT, have published a brief for co-ideation workshops, as part of the investment signal development process for Phase II of the Urban Wellbeing & Development Research Programme.

In a series of workshops in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch Phase I BBHTC Urban Wellbeing & Development researchers and other stakeholders gathered to contribute to an urban wellbeing ‘big picture’ ideation and mind-mapping process.


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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.


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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.


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Simon Wilson on the housing crisis: What governments did wrong

A NZ Herald article (paywalled) by Simon Wilson features research by Building Better researcher Kay Saville-Smith.

“This is a story of collapse, all told in one remarkable graph.

“The graph was created by Kay Saville-Smith, a social scientist who specialises in housing. Saville-Smith knew there had been a long-term decline in the construction of low-cost housing. The Productivity Commission had already identified it. The purple line on her graph shows it. But she wanted to know why, so she pored through decades of raw data, looking for the cause.

“She found it,” writes Simon Wilson.

A PDF of the research behind the article can be found in our library section: Following the money – Understanding the building industry’s exit from affordable housing production

Building Better researcher Dr Kay Saville-Smith. Photo: Louise Thomas.


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

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. The blog includes a link to Iain’s recently published paper in the Urban Studies Online Journal.


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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.


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New Years Honours for BBHTC retired Chair

Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities congratulates our recently retired Chair Professor Richard Bedford who has made the 2020 New Year’s Honours List to receive a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to governance.

As well as serving as BBHTC’s Chair from its early beginnings until the end of June 2019, Richard Bedford has served as President of the Royal Society Te Apārangi for the last four years, leading the Society through a period of transformation.

Professor Richard Bedford. Photo: Louise Thomas.


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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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