Good Homes for Good Lives.

Project Info

This three-year research programme is funded through the Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities National Science Challenge.


Despite the resources, reviews, time and anxiety we in New Zealand expend saying we want affordable, functional homes, fit for purpose, financially sustainable infrastructure that meets the needs of local communities, built environments that facilitate individuals, households and families to thrive or a productive building sector – New Zealand keeps failing to deliver on that.

This SRA says let’s stop looking for the mythical ‘silver bullets’. Let’s stop turning the cycle of blame.

Let’s, instead, take a realist approach which recognises:

  • That there are lots of actors and decisions that impact on our homes, towns and cities.
  • Some of those actors and the logics of their decisions are not clear to others and some actors have more impacts than others.
  • We often don’t understand:
    • how different players’ logics, practices and tools affect New Zealand’s ability to get affordable homes in towns and cities; or
    • how we can adjust things to get better outcomes for all.

This research focuses on understanding and changing the way different actors relate to one another to help us get better homes, towns and cities. It focuses on:

  • Critical Resource Holders – The holders and suppliers of land and finance. These include owner occupiers of residential land and public bodies. Particularly important are financial institutions.
  • Critical Actors:
    • On the supply-side are those who transform land and finance into homes and built environments. They include developers, housing providers (public, private and community), the construction industry and infrastructure providers. Their decisions shape the location, type and function of developments, their size, scale and timing and the functionality, connectedness and affordability of the homes delivered within our towns and cities. Their decisions are often governed by tools and requirements around economic or social returns on investment.
    • On the demand-side the focus is on householders (owner occupiers and tenants respectively) who sometimes but not always influence our housing stock and built environments through housing choices.
  • Regulatory Agents – These include central and local government agencies and some other players that can ‘regulate’ our living spaces, for instance, by imposing things like covenants.

The research is structured around 8 projects designed to:

  • Establish the key nodes of decision-making for homes, towns and cities.
  • Establish the path dependencies and contingencies in relation to desired outcomes, in particular:
    • supply of fit-for-purpose housing affordable to those in housing stress
    • age friendly, walkable and connected neighbourhoods, towns and cities,
    • built environments that are adoptable fiscally, economically, environmentally sustainable in the context of changing demographic and economic conditions including settlement contraction or expansion.
    • infrastructure that is adaptable to changing needs.
  • Assess the alignment of objectives/outcomes among actors in different nodes
  • Establish logics and build an inventory of tools used in different nodes
  • Identify opportunities for re-calibration and re-tooling of existing tools and re-alignment of logics across decision nodes.
  • Work with key stakeholders and decision nodes to re-calibrate, re-tool and adapt the decision-making architecture to optimise achievement of shared outcomes, reduce moral hazard and negative spill-over effects and externalities.