Message from the Co-Director

    Kia ora koutou

    Welcome to the latest BBHTC newsletter, and a special welcome to new subscribers from the Local Government New Zealand conference. Firstly, I would like to welcome and introduce you to our Co-Director (Tangata Whenua) Rihi Te Nana. Rihi is no stranger to the challenge, having being involved in Phase I and II research and her skills and experience will be invaluable in guiding the challenge through our next phases.

    The common theme linking the research highlighted in this newsletter is 'impact'. What has our research found and what are the implications for future decision-making and development? Two of the projects in this newsletter are particularly topical as they relate to 2020 COVID-19 lockdown impacts on food security and mahi aroha, work done by Māori out of a love for the people; and what changes we can make to improve future outcomes.

    In each newsletter we ask you what you think and for this newsletter I invite you to tell us what you think – with a twist. The 2021 COVID lockdown has again given us time to immerse ourselves in our local takiwā and neighbourhoods and reflect on the things that help us thrive, make us smile, improve our hauora, and things that don’t work so well, or make us a bit hoha. Our urban areas in particular, are at the beginning of a period of significant change. Tell us what would you like to keep, change, add, or improve in your neighbourhood or takiwā that will allow your community, current and new, to thrive in the future?

    Ngā mihi nui
    Ruth Berry
    BBHTC Co-Director

    Co-Director (Tangata Whenua) appointment for Ko ngā wā kāinga hei whakamahorahora

    Rihi Te Nana has been appointed to the role of Co-Director (Tangata Whenua) of the Building Better Homes Towns and Cities: Ko ngā wā kāinga hei whakamahorahora National Science Challenge. Photo: Desna Whaanga-Schollum.
    Rihi Te Nana has been appointed to the role of Co-Director (Tangata Whenua) of the Building Better Homes Towns and Cities: Ko ngā wā kāinga hei whakamahorahora National Science Challenge.

    Treaty Partnership is at the heart of our challenge and the appointment of Rihi to the role of Co-Director (Tangata Whenua) is a major step in the implementation of Building Better's Te Tiriti Partnership Commitment.

    Rihi (Ngāti Haaua, Ngāpuhi, Tuwharetoa, Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Raukawa) comes to the Challenge from the Ngā Wai ā te Tui Māori and Indigenous Research Centre, Te Whare Wananga o Wairaka – Unitec. She has been working in the kaupapa Māori research space for nearly two decades. Rihi’s research ideas and knowledge have been committed to developing and empowering whānau to grow whānau agency and capability skills. Rihi has worked alongside whānau, hapū, and community groups to develop and strengthen tikanga practises that support positive transformative healthy whānau well-being practises.

    Food for people in place - building resilient food distribution systems

    Aotearoa New Zealand is a massive food producer. We are in the enviable position of being one of the few countries that can be self-sufficient as well as contribute to global food needs. With 45% of New Zealand’s arable land dedicated to food production, as well as supplying the domestic market, food producers annually export enough food to feed 20 million people.

    Despite this abundance of nutrition, food security is not guaranteed in our country. Recent research led by Building Better Researchers Dr Kelly Dombroski and Gradon Diprose (University of Canterbury and Manaaki Whenua), shows that the COVID-19 global pandemic poses significant challenges to food security, particularly with regards to food access, availability, and stability.

    Photo: Mark Stebnicki, Pexels.

    Mahi Aroha: Māori work in times of trouble

    Building Better researcher, social scientist Dr Fiona Cram (Ngāti Pahauwera) recently investigated the response of Māori to both the 2010 and 2011 Canterbury earthquakes and the 2020 Covid-19 lockdowns. Her research was focussed on “mahi aroha” - work done by Māori out of a love for the people.

    She said that the Canterbury earthquakes prompted expressions of mahi aroha during a natural disaster emergency. Similarly, the Covid-19 level 4 lockdown that began in the last week of March 2020 showcased Māori caring for one another during a pandemic.

    “Whether people were paid or unpaid, out in their communities as essential workers, or broadcasting via the internet from their living rooms and kitchens, Māori around the country engaged in mahi aroha,”

    Following the Canterbury earthquakes, Māori Wardens mobilised to door knock and deliver food, water, and other resources. Image: Leonie Wise, Unsplash.

    Enhancing the role of benevolent property developers in town-centre regeneration

    A team of Building Better researchers studying town-centre regeneration in the South Island say a lot more could be done by local and central government to assist and work with benevolent property entrepreneurs who want their development projects to be both profitable and enhance the social, economic, and aesthetic elements of their home communities.

    Regional settlement regeneration in New Zealand is usually undertaken by locally-based people with very limited external resourcing. Since 1984, New Zealand’s central government, consistent with a neo-liberal market-centred policy stance, has pursued only limited regional development objectives. The net results are uneven impacts on regions, their economies, settlements, and people.

    The rise of e-retailing and changes in transport and vehicle parking preferences, and opportunities in edge- and out-of-centre sites, has meant that regional town-centres must innovate to attract investment. Timaru's Stafford Street.

    Urban employment growth in NZ’s smaller cities

    European regional policy promotes “smart specialisation” by encouraging regions to expand into activities that build on local strengths. The idea is that bringing together people with complementary skills helps them generate new ideas that boost innovation and growth. But does this actually work in a New Zealand context?

    Research, recently published in the international journal Regional Studies, by Building Better researchers Benjamin Davies and Dr David Maré, Motu Economic and Public Policy Research, examines the potential for this way of generating ideas to promote urban employment growth in New Zealand. They find that, in New Zealand, the presence of related industries in an area is not a strong predictor of local employment growth. But why is that?

    Local job networks may promote growth in big cities, but not in small ones. Wellington docks. Photo: James Coleman.

    A mobile sense of place: Methodology to study urban cycleways

    A Building Better research team has developed a user-centred methodology for collecting, categorising, visualising, and interpreting data on urban cycling infrastructure and related cycling events using smart phones to measure accelerometer, gyroscope, speed, and global positioning (GPS), and 360-degree cameras to record audio and visual data.

    The team has collected data on eight recently built major cycle routes in Christchurch, and they are now using the data from one of the routes to examine future research opportunities and potential applications of the methodology to support efforts to advance the planning, design, and implementation of urban cycleways around New Zealand.

    Lead researcher Dr Andreas Wesener, a senior lecturer in Urban Design at the School of Landscape Architecture at Lincoln University, says the promotion of active transport, including cycling, is an important aspect of sustainable urban design.

    Smartphone with attached Giroptic iO 360-degree camera. Photo: Dr Andreas Wesener.

    The social impacts of irrigation

    A Building Better research team has recently looked at the social impacts of irrigation developments in the Waitaki Valley (North Otago) and Amuri (North Canterbury) as part of evaluating the success of regional regeneration initiatives, along with developing methods and capability in assessing social impacts. The work is important to see how the actual impacts line up with the predicted Social Impact Assessment of such work: What worked well, and for whom? What patterns of change were not anticipated and how were these addressed? What can be learnt from these experiences?

    The team have been conducting after-the-fact analyses of a number of initiatives for regional social and economic regeneration in Aotearoa New Zealand’s South Island. The research confirms that regeneration typically is a complex, incremental process involving multiple stakeholders over a lengthy period. Part of Building Better’s “Thriving Regions” work stream, the first tranche of research examined the social impacts of tourism infrastructure developments, including the Alps to Ocean (A2O) National Cycle Trail in the Waitaki Valley. The second tranche is looking at strategies for primary production, especially irrigation, and housing for a changing workforce and population.

    Irrigation in the Lower Waitaki and Amuri brought changes in land ownership, land uses, farming systems, and farm size. Photo: Dr Mike Mackay.

    Looking for hope in our housing crisis

    Reporter Bernard Hickey was shocked at how shocked readers were at his loss of hope for the housing futures of young renters. Challenged to come up with new ideas unconstrained by political and financial limits, he went in search of hope elsewhere and dreamed up a big new idea of his own.

    Bernard spoke to BBHTC's co-leader for Affordable Housing for Generations, Dr Kay Saville-Smith, in a iSpinoff podcast. Kay said she was more hopeful than she’d been in decades of housing research and policy advice. She said policy makers, politicians, and many in the sector had finally realised the scale of the issues and the need to change many things, through regulation, investment, and policy changes. She was positive about the role of community housing providers and Kāinga Ora in building new homes, and also pointed to the potential for councils to use special rates to capture value uplift on land values when councils rezone areas and/or make the land more valuable by investing in infrastructure in and around it.

    Photo: Louise Thomas.

    New publications

    The Building Better research library continues to grow at pace on our website. New publications uploaded since the last newsletter include:

    Tell us what you think

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