Click on a region to see the research


Te Waipounamu / South Island


Te Waipounamu / South Island research programmes include integrated case studies of settlements and communities that are creating positive futures for themselves. Researchers are working directly with community stakeholders as they navigate change, determine their own aspirations, confront impediments to wellbeing, and search for solutions to local problems and enact sustainable future pathways. Research reveals practical approaches effective at creating real-world change in different community, settlement, and regional settings, as well as documenting examples where residents, local governments, community groups, and businesses have collaborated to create change. These experiences can be shared with and applied in other settlements and regions across Aotearoa New Zealand to help generate positive social change.

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Ikaroa-Rawhiti / East Coast

Gisborne concrete wharf

Ikaroa-Rawhiti/East Coast and Pōneke/Wellington research programmes are wide and varied and include Māori perspectives of regional regeneration in the Hawke's Bay and the value of sunshine in cities like Wellington - research which has been cited internationally. Research conducted in Wellington, but applicable nationwide, includes the impact of policies and procedures on the decline of affordable housing production - research which has been cited in numerous media articles in the last few years. We also investigate building solutions for those living with dementia, renting in retirement, urban employment growth in NZ’s smaller cities, virtual reality tools for user collaboration in urban design, the quality of life in Gisborne/Tairāwhiti, the impact of the Provincial Growth Fund on regional development in Gisborne/Tairāwhiti, and life when renting for older Māori in the Hawke's Bay.

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ITe Tai Hauāuru / Western North Island


Te Tai Hauāuru / Western North Island, including Taranaki and Manawatū-Whanganui, appears in several research programmes, including an analysis of the first year of the Provincial Growth Fund, which was designed for regional development interventions in regions with a strong primary resource sector base but which were seen as not achieving their full economic potential. Both Whanganui and Manawatū are examined by researchers investigating the potential of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and the provisions made for these in District Plans.

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Waiariki – Tauranga, Whakatāne, Rotorua, Taupo


Places in Waiariki, including Tauranga, Whakatāne, Rotorua, and Taupo, have appeared in several BBHTC research programmes. Tauranga featured as one of three places that were rated high for both quality of life and quality of business in a BBHTC study, having leveraged their local strengths to make the town attractive to both firms and people. The research suggests there may be ideas here for other towns that wish to improve both their economic viability and their liveability. In Taupo, BBHTC researchers exploring water-sensitive urban design note the Taupo District Council Stormwater Strategy where natural Pumic Soils in gullies are used as infiltration devices, and low bunds and planted flax ‘baffles’ are used to detain stormwater to increase time for infiltration – a very cost effective infiltration practice. Other research on the economic geography of graduate destination choices in New Zealand feature cities throughout the region.

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Hauraki-Waikato / North Western North Island

Pokeno map

Hauraki-Waikato / North Western North Island, including Hamilton and Papakura, research programmes are concerned with both the aspirations of tangata whenua/ mana whenua groups for regional, local, and settlement regeneration and revitalisation; as well as the vulnerability of Māori communities given disproportionate social, economic, cultural, and environmental impacts on communities. BBHTC researchers are looking at the relationships between regeneration aspirations, regional planning, Māori design, and community outcomes; and Covid-19 recovery and related social, cultural, and economic impacts through a range of regional data, regional development activities, and Kaupapa Māori case studies. Research includes building an evidence base about the wellbeing of Māori in the regions, with a specific focus on mana whenua in Huntly, Pōkeno and Waharoa. Researchers also investigate a successful kaumātua housing project in Hamilton and current housing issues facing diverse Māori communities in the region.

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Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland


Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland is New Zealand’s most diverse city and so too are our research programmes here. They include medium density living done well, ways and patterns of commuting, co-designing with young Aucklanders, cohousing and papakāinga, papakāinga in the 21st Century (building up), innovative resources for marae looking at housing programmes, the role of marae in helping the homeless whānau in Tāmaki Makaurau, urban regeneration and cohesion, as well as urban design, and how to increase urban mauri ora - social, cultural-ecological wellbeing.

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Te Tai Tokerau / Northern Aoteoroa New Zealand


Te Tai Tokerau / Northern Aoteoroa New Zealand, including Whangārei, research includes investigating papakāinga design principles and applications, with an investigation of papakāinga in Ahipara. In Kaikohe, the BBHTC's Rangatahi Ahu, James Berghan, Maia Ratana, and Jackie Paul, engaged with young Māori around their aspirations for and perceptions of housing. BBHTC research into building principles of communal tenure into contemporary housing developments examines socially-based tenures in Kaitaia as well as papakāinga provisions in the Whangārei District Plan (Whangārei District Council 2011) which allow for mixed-use community facilities as well as housing - recommending that there are potentially transferrable lessons and approaches here that could assist other councils.

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Audios - The Legend of Māui



About the map

Designed by artist Rihana Te Nana, this map of Aotearoa represents a traditional Māori perspective of the country following the legend of Māui, who fished up the North Island/Te Ika-a-Māui (the fish of Māui), with the South Island/Te Waka-a-Māui (now Te Waipounamu) as his waka/canoe and Stewart Island/Rakiura his waka's anchor. It reminds us that while we are all human, sometimes we can have a different perspective.


Call for input for two PMCSA evidence synthesis projects

The Office of the Prime Ministers Chief Science Advisor has two smaller evidence synthesis projects in progress exploring:

Details of the project are available via the weblinks above. The PMCSA is looking to identify researchers that have both relevant expertise and would be interested in feeding back as a peer reviewer over the next 2-4 months for either project.

If you are an expert or stakeholder in this area, and would like to be involved, please reach out by emailing with your name, contact details, and a short statement on your relevant expertise by 5pm, 24 February.

Access and susceptibility to false online information, including information that is misleading, harmful and hateful, is a rapidly growing global challenge. The increased use of the internet and social media by children and young people poses a significant risk for Aotearoa New Zealand. These threats from Polluted Information include the undermining of social cohesion, well-being, and a well-informed citizenry.


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Water Sensitive Urban Design ‘desperately needed’

At the end of January, an “atmospheric river” deluged Auckland, causing wide-spread flooding and a State of Emergency in the region.

Although the rain was an unprecedented record setter, how has the city performed? When the water recedes, are there lessons to be learned and changes to be made in how we create our urban environments? Do our stormwater systems need revising in the face of a changing climate? Do we need to radically change our thinking about non-porous hard surfaces that force water into surface run-off? Should councils be mandating Water Sensitive Urban Design on all new developments and actively retrofitting existing infrastructure to try and prevent the events that occurred in Auckland from happening again?

A team of researchers supported by BBHTC say we need to shift our thinking and start adopting Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) now, as extreme events such as that in Auckland are likely to become more frequent.

Dr Robyn Simcock says the large, tree-filled raingardens in Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter show how to absorb excess run-off water from impermeable surfaces. There are a myriad of ways to help create ‘sponge’ cities such as dual use of low-lying parks to hold runoff, roadside raingardens to reduce flow into guttering, trees beside roads, greenroofs, and reducing impermeable surfaces. Photo: Robyn Simcock, Landcare Research.


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The city as laboratory: What post-quake Christchurch is teaching us about urban recovery and transformation

In this The Conversation article by BBHTC researchers Kelly Dombroski and Amanda Yates, the pair explore post-quake urban recovery in Ōtautahi Christchurch. In the aftermath of a series of earthquakes that devastated the city 12 years ago, impromptu and transitional organisations kickstarted the city’s recovery.

On the many vacant sites in the demolished city, they supported pop-up shops, installations and events to keep city life and urban wellbeing going during the slow post-quake rebuild.

Such transitional urban wellbeing efforts are just as relevant elsewhere as cities experience the impacts of climate chaos and wider ecological decline, and are subject to shocks, both acute and chronic.

Cities are under increasing pressure to shift to circular, zero-carbon and ecological living systems to support social, cultural and ecological wellbeing. Researchers studying urban system change have identified key areas of action for holistic wellbeing.

The Commons in Christchurch is now a regular space for markets and events. Photo: Gap Filler, CC BY-ND.


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