Kaupapakāinga: The potential for Māori cohousing

Berghan, James

Abstract – Tuhinga Whakarāpopoto

Approaches to kaupapa Māori development such as papakāinga housing bear similarities with collective housing models such as cohousing. Cohousing, a Danish model of collective housing, combines private dwellings with shared spaces and facilities. Papakāinga and cohousing communities often share aspirations for social, environmental, and economic sustainability, so arguably, dialogue between the two models has merit. While papakāinga typically denotes an ancestral connection to the whenua, Māori are predominantly an urban population so for many Māori, their primary residence may not be located on or near their ancestral land. The purpose of this paper is to explore the potential for Māori to co-opt aspects of the cohousing model. The paper begins by contextualising Māori housing, to understand the concept of papakāinga as a uniquely Māori way of living. The paper then shifts to introduce the cohousing model, a Western housing typology with social aspirations which tend to align with some of the values underpinning papakāinga. Drawing on lessons from three case study sites: Kāinga Tuatahi, an urban papakāinga in central Auckland; Earthsong, a cohousing community in West Auckland; and the Hamilton Kaumātua Village. The latter is a manifestation of what a ‘kaupapakāinga’ or a Māori cohousing approach could look like. The paper considers the potential strengths and weaknesses of a hybrid Māori cohousing approach. The paper concludes that kaupapakāinga could have potential to contribute to Māori housing aspirations, particularly for urban Māori and those living away from their ancestral lands.

Articles associated with this research – Karere Tūhono

News: Kaupapakāinga: The potential for Māori cohousing

07 June 2022: Māori conceptions of ‘home’ are relational and multi-dimensional. They can extend beyond the physical house, drawing on connections and relationships within and between whānau, whenua, and whakapapa.

These conceptions can be at odds with mainstream societal regimes, which tend to focus on individualisation, private property rights, and the nuclear family unit. Building Better researcher Dr James Berghan asks if there may be better options worth investigating. >> Read More.

Keywords – Kupu Hāngai

Housing, tenures, communal tenures, making communities, kaupapakāinga, papakāinga, urban wellbeing, affordable housing, cohousing

Fields of Research – Āpure Rangahau

Surveying; Housing and the Built Environment; Community Planning; Communal Tenures; Māori Papakāinga


Date – Te Wā Whakarewa



Type – Te Auaha


Citation – Kupu Hautoa

Berghan, J. (2021). Kaupapakāinga: The potential for Māori cohousing. Report for Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities: Affordable Housing for Generations. September 2021, 37pgs. Wellington: BBHTC.