Our National Science Challenge is called Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities: Ko ngā wā kāinga hei papakainga (BBHTC). It will identify new ways of living that reflect Aotearoa's unique identity, and respond to our changing lifestyle needs and aspirations.

Guided by the principles of mātauranga, the Challenge seeks innovative, affordable and flexible solutions for our homes, towns and cities. This will enable us to create residential environments that suit the needs of our multi-cultural society. Included among these are effects of accelerating climate change and dynamic population shifts.  

The Challenge parties will partner with industry, iwi, communities and government, both local and central, to deliver robust evidence. They will also seek to improve end-to-end industry and regulatory processes. 

The research outcomes will support New Zealanders to embrace change, and to understand what sustainable and effective land-use means for our 21st-century lives. 

Our goal is to create distinctive "Kiwi" homes, towns and cities. These will offer a greater choice of living styles, nurture our sense of community, and enable us all to live well.

Read more about our Challenge partners and collaborators.

The Challenge's objective is to improve the quality and supply of housing and create smart and attractive urban environments through:

1.      an improved housing stock;

2.      meeting future demand for affordable housing;

3.      taking up innovation and productivity improvement opportunities;

4.      improving urban environments and residents' well-being; and

5.      better systems for improved land-use decisions.

Understanding and Re-tooling the Architecture and Logistics of Decision-making

Our built environments are produced through a complex of interactions between three major groups: resource holders (physical and financial); critical actors in supply and demand (developers, builders, consumers, financiers, investors); and regulating agencies. These groups and individuals are all influenced by economic, financial and cultural imperatives. Together, these "actors" and their logics comprise "the architecture of decision-making". This programme will improve decision-making about controls on, incentives for and costs of new buildings through a systemic approach. This will lead to improved housing stock and will meet future demand for affordable housing. The programme will pay particular attention to the resource holdings and critical actor positioning of iwi, hapu and Māori trusts, as well as the two-tiered regulatory environment Māori operate in.

Principal Investigators: Kay Saville-Smith   Iain White   Larry Murphy

Next Generation Information for Better Outcomes

Modern technology offers opportunities to use a wider range of data. For example, crowd-sourced data can help shape and improve the function and flow of our communities. This research will realise the expanding wealth of digital information, particularly geospatial data, and how it can be better used and more easily accessed across local, regional and national decision-makers.

Principal Investigators: Simon Kingham   Vivienne Ivory   Malcolm Campbell

Supporting Success in Regional Settlements

Regeneration includes property-led development, cultural and built heritage revitalisation, ecological restoration, business social entrepreneurship and community ventures. So this research will develop a model of the system of regional settlements and their linkages to cities and rural activity to identify connections which will improve urban environments.

Principal Investigators: Harvey Perkins   Arthur Grimes   Michael Mackay  

Shaping Places: Future Neighbourhoods

Liveable and well-designed houses and neighbourhoods, benefit the people who live in them. They  also contribute to successful towns and cities. In other words, both the physical and social structure of neighbourhoods are critical to their success. By focusing on the larger cities - home to around half of all New Zealanders - this research will lead to an understanding of the principles and processes that create more successful neighbourhoods.

Principal Investigators: Errol Haarhoff   Ella Henry   Marc-Aurel Schnabel   Karen Witten  Suzanne Vallance

Transforming the Building Industry

This research aims to transform the current conservative, constrained and fragmented building industry into a productive, innovative industry for the 21st century. Under the overarching theme of innovation, the research will focus on three areas: new technologies, appropriate upskilling of labour, and improving processes with a focus on whole-of-building, whole-of-life performance.

Principal Investigators: Suzanne Wilkinson   John Tookey   Casimir MacGregor   Regan Potangaroa

Kāinga Tahi Kāinga Rua

The Kāinga Tahi Kāinga Rua Strategic Research Area recognises the dual and complex nature of our Māori identities and the many communities we construct our lives in. Simply, all Māori by whakapapa originate from a specific place, rohe, marae, kāinga, but are more likely now to live at their Kāinga Rua in a city. Many Māori may consider their Kāinga Tahi being the city now and their Kāinga Rua their marae.

Principal Investigators: Rau Hoskins   Jenny Lee-Morgan   Rihi Te-Nana   Denise Riini