Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities

The National Science Challenges are designed to find solutions to some of the large, complex issues that matter most to us. 

Why a Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities (BBHTC) Challenge?

Housing is a fundamental human need. Every person is involved in housing, but we have needs and wants beyond simply a roof over our heads. A home should nurture and protect us. It should be hospitable. It should be dry, warm and insulated to keep us healthy. It should have clean air and sunlight. And it should be part of a community or built environment that also nurtures and protects us.

However, there are significant difficulties in New Zealand’s built environment which the BBHTC Challenge seeks to address. These issues include our housing supply, the quality of our housing, and the vulnerabilities and underperformance of some of our urban environments.  

Challenge Vision

Our vision is: 

Ka ora kainga rua: Built environments that build communities

Challenge Mission

And our mission:

Manaaki tangata: Co-created innovative research that helps transform people’s dwellings into homes and communities that are hospitable, productive and protective.


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Latest News

Jacqueline Paul - delegate at the UN 2018 Winter Youth Assembly

19 February 2018: Jacqueline Paul (Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāpuhi, Kahungunu) is part of the Building Better Homes, Towns & Cities Shaping Places: Future Neighbourhoods Māori Research team. She was a delegate at the UN 2018 Winter Youth Assembly from 14 to 16 February in New York. This Youth Assembly is a platform to elevate the voices of young people in international dialogues, empower youth to advocate for future generations, and mobilize youth as agents of impactful change. Jacqueline's participation in this assembly was supported by the Challenge.

Think Tank hui aims at visible and disruptive contribution to housing debate

13 February 2018: Making a highly visible and disruptive contribution to the housing, urban design, and planning debate was the aim of a Māori Housing Think Tank hui, convened on 24 January to establish a kaupapa Māori research programme for the ‘Kāinga Tahi Kāinga Rua’ research area.

The hui, attended by over 30 participants, divided into three streams or whenu:

Whenu 1: Supporting Hauora Through Successful Māori Housing Initiatives Further understand, from the perspective of whānau, the nexus between poverty, housing, and well-being for diverse Māori communities and to examine solutions that can support transformational hauora outcomes.

Whenu 2: Economic Solutions to Support Māori Housing To develop a suite of economic and finance solutions for diverse whānau that can address issues of lifetime renting and home ownership, and explore the tensions between commercial return of assets, social housing for iwi, and enhanced hauora outcomes.

Whenu 3: Growing Papakāinga into the Future To examine a wide range of papakāinga developments to understand what is innovative and propose ways forward for the future of papakāinga housing that account for kāinga tahi kāinga rua.


Māori and indigenous housing annotated bibliography report

23 January 2018: Home for Māori starts with the ancestral home-place: important to Māori cultural identity. Home-place links are reinforced by physical associations with land, whakapapa, proximity to extended family, experience of te reo, and the importance of the marae. Home is about whānau, whenua and whakapapa. However, nearly 85% of Māori in New Zealand live in urban areas: a small proportion of whom are mana whenua, who may have remaining, or regained ancestral land. This latter aspect has enabled exemplar urban papakāinga developments in Auckland and Wellington. There are also increasing examples of rural papakāinga, where Māori have returned to their ancestral land to build housing. Ironically this trend, and the hard won successes, are the result of urban homelessness, or the struggle to survive with impossible rental payments. While there are complex reasons for homelessness, Māori are most affected and as income disparities and housing costs increase this is likely to continue.


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