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Winter 2017




Advance shorts


Community groups join global vision


Weaving stories



Density done well


How a food forest builds social savvy


The science of change-making


Redefining how we remember


New app for speedy sharing of breast milk


When walls become canvases

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Editor Robert Ford Writers Mandy Herrick, Mary de Ruyter Contributors John Stansfield, Michael Maahs, David Kenkel, Anna Halliwell, Dr Paola Trapani, Alexandra Riley, Graeme McConchie, Haare Williams, Allan McEvoy, Vlad Sadovenko, Bobby Hung Design Tineswari Maruthamuthu Printing Unitec Copy Centre Published by Unitec Institute of Technology Private Bag 92025, Victoria Street West Auckland 1142, New Zealand ISSN 1176-7391

Printed on environmentally sustainable FSC-certified paper, Cocoon by BJBall. Abides by the National Standard for Certification of Plantation Forest Management in New Zealand.

Phone 0800 10 95 10

Placemaking Once I started researching the concept of placemaking, I was surprised to see just how it connected a plethora of diverse areas, such as community development, public art, housing design, urban planning and design-led thinking.

The rising cost of housing in New Zealand means that finding a new way – or rediscovering an old way – to make a home through shared living is worth exploring. In Density Done Well, we hear about how to get higher-density housing right so that a sense of community is retained whilst building more homes. The concept of a food forest isn’t a new one, though as Allan McEvoy discovered, turning your attention to your land has many delightful unforeseen benefits. From fence-side fruit giveaways to sharing breast milk via modern means, we also take a look at how student Vlad Sadovenko is harnessing smartphone technology to build a sharing platform to nurture the next generation. Of course, one of the most powerful ways of developing a If you have any questions sense of place for communities is about the research articles in by connecting this issue of Advance, please people to their contact the Unitec Research

and Enterprise Office. We’d love to hear from you.

surroundings and many projects here speak to this, from a penguin nesting-box project to an eco-challenge that encourages people to consciously think about their actions.


What struck me the most though, was just how strongly it is about people. I won’t repeat the Māori proverb, because it’s probably already in your head, but placemaking really is, for me at least, about people, places, and community. Perhaps as a social worker I would say that! As you read through these pieces, you might agree with me.

Our land contains many stories and through greater awareness of these stories, we can create a powerful sense of tūrangawaewae. One of the people whose life’s work is intimately connected to this concept of ‘giving people a place to stand’ is Matua Haare Williams. Williams has played a pivotal role in establishing Unitec as a place where people feel empowered and connected. Through the development of a foundational document for Unitec – Te Noho Kotahitanga – and the conception of Te Noho Kotahitanga Marae, he has worked to create a sense of belonging, a sense of growth and a sense of history at Unitec. Building on this ‘heart’ to guide a transformation – both pedagogical and environmental, the organisation is leading a major urban development in Mount Albert. After the launch of Mataaho and Te Puna, the first two buildings, we are now poised for the next steps that will enhance our place and community. So it's timely to turn the spotlight on research into different ways of achieving this. I invite you now to explore the stories of those people, like Haare, who through their actions are helping to give us a strong sense of place. Robert Ford Head of Social Practice Unitec Institute of Technology

Winter 2017



Toolkit for co-housing renaissance In the face of rocketing house prices, increasing living costs and social disconnection, co-housing is becoming an attractive option for many people. 2016 Masters student Sara Faraj created a decision-making toolkit for this burgeoning housing renaissance. Popular in Northern Europe in the 1970s and 1980s, and in America and Canada in the 1990s, co-housing is experiencing a revival as people look to build a community of like-minded people and share extensive facilities that may be unaffordable. These include meeting rooms, guest rooms and libraries, says Faraj, a former service design student.


everyone to share their voice. There will always be people that are more vocal than others, so this gives people the chance to be heard and express how they feel about any given situation.” As part of her thesis, Faraj tweaked existing decision-making tools and developed a variety of tools from scratch to help canvass opinions on a range of topics, from suitable housing density to the sharing of facilities. She then tested the tools on workshop participants who were interested in being part of a co-housing project.

With co-housing situations, she says, the sticking point is that often the decision-making can be mind-bogglingly complex, leading to tension – or worse, one group might decide to leave the project. The latter can be quite common.

Each tool allowed participants to express their views in a creative, playful way. ‘Get in the grid’ helped participants determine their preferred density by jumping in a grid; ‘the hero in you’ allowed participants to reflect on how their skills could be used in any given situation.

“Co-housing projects are very collaborative and the decision-making process is participatory, though often these groups lack the tools to allow

“This is one of the tools that was most successful, because it allowed the group to look at what skills were missing and what they could do to cut

costs,” says Faraj. She adds that rather than engaging people in Powerpoint presentations, interviews and lengthy written surveys, these tools allowed the group to survey opinions and gather authentic data, so decisions could reflect the desires and attitudes of the whole community. “Earthsong in West Auckland is one of a few co-housing projects in New Zealand, though I think if people have the right tools to get these projects kick-started and manage them smoothly, we’d see a lot more co-housing projects cropping up. This would be a great thing for New Zealand,” she says.

ePress highlights ethnic media discussion

ePress’s first publication of the year is Ethnic Migrant Media Forum 2014: Curated Proceedings, which documents a 2014 forum that brought together some of New Zealand’s leading ethnic media practitioners and academics to explore the role, benefits, challenges and potential of this sector in New Zealand. Such outlets play an important role in shaping migrants’ views of themselves and the space they inhabit, says the forum’s keynote speaker, Dr Ruth De Souza. “Ethnic media sustains and fosters a sense of belonging to

an imagined community that feels coherent, united and connected to a homeland.” These curated proceedings provide a comprehensive analysis of the themes emerging from the day – including a discussion of the diversity of New Zealand’s minority media landscape and its role in connecting people to place. Following the panellist statements, Victoria University’s Peter Thompson concludes with a discussion chapter. As well as providing a portal for such publications, ePress is working on a number of innovative techniques to push boundaries in the world of digital publishing. In a first for ePress, a curated book of works by a Unitec Researcher in Residence, Austrian Walter Klasz, received an open review. Experts from around the

world were invited to comment on and discuss Klasz’s practice, which sits between architecture and art. So far, the reviews have generated rich discussion about the connections between research, reflective practice, and place. To read these proceedings and reviews, visit Several new open-access, creative-commons publications are also available. SHORTS

If media plays a role in forming our understanding of the world around us, then in New Zealand – where 25% of the population was born overseas – it could be said that ethnic media have a particularly important role to play in this understanding.

Left to right: Ruth De Souza, Elena Kolesova, Sandra Kailahi and Evangelia Papoutsaki at Te Noho Kotahitanga Marae, Unitec Institute of Technology.

Penguin pride Housing projects and mining developments along New Zealand’s West Coast are causing big trouble for the world’s smallest penguin. However, some pint-sized conservationists from Barrytown School and a Unitec lecturer are working hard to keep this threatened species safe. Accustomed to nesting on the wild coastline under flaxes, scrub and tree roots, little blue penguins must now traipse kilometres inland in search of a covered, safe nesting site. This puts them at great risk of being hit by cars, and attacked by stoats and dogs. One of the best ways to protect little blue penguins from these threats is to provide them with seaside, predatorproof nesting boxes to keep them safe. Associate Professor in Natural Sciences Stephane Boyer has been working with Barrytown School to create a

series of boxes along the coastline, with funding from the Brian Mason Scientific and Technical Trust. Last year, the school group constructed several dummy boxes from cardboard and glue to determine the perfect design, then went on to make four plywood penguin homes. Teacher Rachael Whyte explains, “They are complex wee boxes to make. Many of the students have not swung a hammer and the ply was very difficult to cut with the saws, so we used the powersaw – much to the sheer delight of the boys, and some of the girls. It has been a learning curve for sure.” The penguin boxes will soon be installed in the Te Ara Taiko Nature Reserve. Boyer says the small-scale project has turned into something much bigger than originally anticipated. “Involving school

students in a hands-on conservation project is a great way to spread the word and reach a whole community. To see these penguins thrive is a great source of pride for the community, and helps to develop a strong sense of kaitiakitanga (guardianship) among the next generation of New Zealanders.” To find out more, visit Winter 2017


Community groups join global vision More than 200 international delegates and community leaders came together to discuss ways to take up the United Nation’s 17 ambitious sustainable development goals, at Unitec’s Community Development Conference in February this year. COVER STORY


Jointly organised by Unitec, the Aotearoa Community Development Association and the International Association for Community Development, the conference drew together experts from 13 countries to discuss topics such as reclaiming democracy, placemaking and mapping out a vision for humanity. “The Community Development Conference was a chance for academics and social practitioners to get together to discuss and evaluate how their organisation’s goals can dovetail with the United Nation’s (UN's) 2030 agenda to end poverty, protect the planet and create a world where no one is left behind,” says John Stansfield, organiser and Senior Lecturer in Community Development. In September 2015, 193 heads of state and top leaders unanimously adopted the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The 17 goals aim to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality,


reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, ensure environmental sustainability, and combat diseases such as HIV/AIDS and malaria. The SDGs also provide an aspirational framework to improve the supply of affordable housing, encourage women in leadership and shape foreign aid. However Stansfield says government and community adoption of the SDGs has been piecemeal so far. “In many respects, it was a to-do list for humanity; it helped to focus the world’s attention on a shared global vision. It was our aim to internalise these goals across a community level, so we drew together social and



"We conducted a number of workshops, film screenings and field trips to projects on the fringes of Auckland, so the participants could see tangible examples of the goals in action.”

community groups in New Zealand to see how these goals can be adopted across the board,” he says. “Ultimately we hope this vision will help to create new norms within the sector and spur organisations along to look into how their projects can be tweaked to tackle a number of the goals.” At the conference, local community leaders and academics joined speakers from Australia, Tonga, Fiji, Nepal and Vietnam to deliver presentations across a variety of subjects: from the value of female entrepreneurship to building climate-resilient communities, developing sustainable housing solutions to ageing gracefully. “We just didn’t want it to be a talk-fest, we wanted people to come away inspired and frothing with ideas. As well as organising more than 55 speakers, we conducted a number of workshops, film screenings and field trips to projects on the fringes of Auckland, so the participants could see tangible examples of the goals in action.” One such field trip was to the Waiheke Resources Trust, which runs a number of projects that give

people the tools and skills to live sustainably. From composting workshops to zero-waste projects, the Waiheke Island trust helps community members to reduce the amount of waste they produce, live healthier lives, save money, forge greater connections within the community, and foster a sense of kaitiakitanga (guardianship). Michael Maahs, who manages the trust, says the SDGs have been an invaluable influence on the direction of the organisation. “Originally the trust was formed with the goal of waste minimisation, though we quickly realised we needed to get people on board with a larger vision around living sustainably and environmental connectedness,” Maahs says.

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"Each project inspires people to think about a number of things, whether it be water, waste, food resilience or biodiversity."

“We have everything from volunteer beach ambassadors, who teach people about marine pollution, to the Kai Conscious programme, which encourages Waihekeans to think about their food waste. Each project inspires people to think about a number of things, whether it be water, waste, food resilience or biodiversity.”

Love Our

Maahs says the chance to showcase the trust’s projects to international experts and discuss some of the challenges he’s faced proved invaluable. Since the SDGs were released in 2015, Maahs has worked to ensure the projects Waiheke Resources Trust undertakes align with the UN’s goals, and includes appropriate SDG goals on every project.

water and sanitation, and

“One of the most interesting aspects of the conference was looking at people’s projects and how they aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. These tangible examples of the goals in action showed us pathways as to how to expand our projects and inspire people.”

Wetlands – one of the trust’s flagship projects – works to promote health and wellbeing, clean

conserve life below water. However, it has achieved much more. “Wetlands didn’t register very highly with the people we recruited, so by showing the critical function that wetlands play in water cleanliness and stemming erosion, it added to the pride they felt in the clean-up work they did," says Maahs. "They came away knowing that their hard labour had created a functioning wetland that would become a magnet for wading birds, keep our beaches clean and ensure our community stays healthy.”

contact John Stansfield Michael Maahs



Weaving stories A thought leader, a revolutionary and, most importantly, a consummate storyteller, Haare Williams has worked to ensure that rangatahi and teachers at Unitec know their stories, their land and, most importantly, their heroes. At first meeting, it is clear Haare Williams, who comes from chiefly lineage of Tūhoe and Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki, is a born orator. His speech is filled with snatches of verse, poetic descriptions and lyrical whakataukī (proverbs). “I think storytelling has an incredible transformative power that’s so important for Māori kids. They have to know who their heroes are and where they come from. That way they can take on the power of their whakapapa,” says the teacher, broadcaster, poet, painter and scriptwriter. “We want them to wear their whakapapa as a badge of honour and use it as a taiaha to thrust their way forward.”

This desire to tell Māori stories shone through from Williams’ early beginnings at Unitec. As he moved from being a tutor (1994–2002) to the Dean of Māori Education and later as the inaugural Pae Ārahi, the Māori adviser to the Chief Executive, Williams worked to ground Unitec’s students and staff in te ao Māori (the Māori world). As he took on these various roles, he played a pivotal part in making Unitec a place where people can come to appreciate the ways in which Māori and Pākehā life, language and culture intertwine to produce a unique educational environment.

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"This foundation of peace and understanding is crucial if we are to become the most liveable small democracy in the world."


Having this mātauranga (knowledge and understanding) as a foundation has enabled students and academics to gain a new perspective, and helped to foster research projects that incorporate present-day, historical, local and traditional Māori knowledge systems – whether it be in health or environmental studies. One of Williams’ key achievements was working with senior leadership and the Chief Executive to create the partnership document Te Noho Kotahitanga, which translates as ‘The United Partnership Covenant’. The charter expressed a commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and outlined several principles that will underpin all Unitec’s goals. Using these principles as a practical guide, Unitec has established a number of educational programmes and institutions to foster greater awareness and understanding of our bicultural nation’s narratives, both past and present. Williams went on to help plan the early stages of Unitec’s Te Noho Kotahitanga Marae and the Te Puna Reo Early Childhood Centre on campus. Williams says this deeper understanding of te ao Māori through the teaching of Te Tiriti o Waitangi,


te reo and tikanga Māori was crucial for the two cultures to develop mutual understanding and respect. “It was part of our evolution as a nation, knowing and understanding the Treaty of Waitangi,” he says. “Learning through Te Noho Kotahitanga provides the ideal way to achieve equality and lasting peace. This foundation of peace and understanding is crucial if we are to become the most liveable small democracy in the world.” The charter of Te Noho Kotahitanga took seven months to develop, and involved the ideas of everyone from cleaners to senior leaders and tangata whenua – so the end result wasn’t a hollow document that was largely ignored, but rather a set of words that embodied the spirit of Unitec as an educational institution. During its creation, people were clear that it had to be an audited living document, to ensure tangible outcomes sprang forth from the covenant. “I remember Tony Van Raat, at that time the Dean of Architecture and Design, saying, ‘If this covenant is anything like the Treaty of Waitangi, left to turn to dust on a shelf, then I will have no part of it.’”

Illustrations © Hohepa Renata, Auckland, 2017.

As well as being the driving force behind this philosophical charter, Williams has also worked hard to establish a ceremonial space at Unitec for these teachings: namely, a marae that embodied the local stories of the area and beyond. Once he gained approval for Te Noho Kotahitanga Marae in 2003, Williams convinced Te Arawa master sculptor Dr Lyonel Grant to come on board. Grant’s goal was to visually tell the stories of Tāmaki Makaurau, the migration of waka to Aotearoa and the genesis of New Zealand, to help give students and teachers a firm sense of place. “We worked closely with Lyonel and elders from Ngāti Whātua, Tainui and Te Kawerau-ā-Maki. We would spend a lot of time at my house scribbling down ideas and bring these stories to life through paint and pencil.” Using chisel and file, Lyonel and his team of master carvers spent many hundreds of hours carving elaborate motifs into mighty tōtara logs, to fill the marae with a storied past. Opened in 2009, this exquisite latticed whare whakairo


"The marae allows the stories of this land and its people past and present to wash over visitors, and fill them up with a warm sense of belonging."

(carved meeting house) plays host to ceremonies, celebrations and other events, and sits close to the life force of the Wairaka Stream that meanders through the central campus.

Williams says the marae is a focal point for the two campuses and a hub for learning about te ao Māori – but it also acts as an anchor to anyone who walks through its doorway. “Framed by the unmistakable landforms of Tāmaki Makaurau and filled with the stories of ancestors, the marae allows the stories of this land and its people past and present to wash over visitors, and fill them up with a warm sense of belonging,” he says. “Anyone who stays in here knows what it means to be a New Zealander. When you sleep here, you get a sense to belong, to learn, to succeed and to grow.”

contact Haare Williams

Winter 2017


Density done well To help deal with Auckland’s swelling population, the suburb of Glen Eden has been earmarked for high-density housing. Unitec Social Practice researchers have been sharing their expertise with the local board on how to adopt an urban design that works for everyone.



Glen Eden will change from a car-centric suburb of single dwellings, many of them state houses, to a mixed-dwelling community. Researchers Kate Doswell, David Haigh and David Kenkel recently presented ideas in a draft report to the local board, after conducting a literature review, interviews and observational analysis. Among other ideas, they recommended the board adopt a child-centred, collaborative design approach in order to manage density well, so it works for everyone – young, old, rich and poor. “By 2033, Auckland's population is expected to reach two million, and this will put great pressure on low-rise suburbs like Glen Eden to absorb some of the new population,” says Kenkel. “So the local board asked us to look at ways to make Glen Eden a great place to live, as there is a push for medium- to high-density apartments.”


As a suburb with a high proportion of singledwelling state houses and a large number of renters, many of them ageing, Glen Eden is ripe for redevelopment – though the report’s authors warn this must not be done blindly. Interestingly, studies (Allen, 2015; Auckland Council, 2015) show most people don’t have an aversion to density as long as it’s done well. Families, couples and individuals are often happy to move into apartments or terraced houses if it allows them to access more affordable housing and better public transport. Haigh says, “I’ve spoken with community leaders, and their answers reflected many of

"By 2033, the population in Auckland is expected to reach two million."

the studies that show people are happy to live in higher-density housing so long as amenities are available and of high quality.” Designed during the car-centric 1970s, with little thought for cyclists and pedestrians, Glen Eden’s roads often act to deter usage by anyone not in a car. The authors say in order to change this design, it is important to establish a child-centric approach to designing the city, so it is easy to navigate on foot.


"People are happy to live in higher-density housing, so long as amenities are abundant and of high quality."

“Child-centric and aged-centric design approaches encourage planners to create quiet, safe routes where people can access services and recreational facilities on foot, which has the effect of creating tighter-knit communities,”adds Haigh.

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"By adjusting fencing, landscaping and streetscape features, visibility can easily be improved to ensure people feel safe."



Creating safe routes, easy access to nature spots and integrating play areas into communal spaces are common suggestions stemming from placemaking studies – and many of these studies essentially conclude if an initiative is good for children and older people, it is good for everyone. As well as creating child-centric spaces, the authors say one of the key factors to increasing the wellbeing of a community is to create safe areas. This isn’t necessarily done just through surveillance cameras and good lighting: clean, uninterrupted sightlines are one of the most effective ways of preventing crime and ensuring people feel safe, Kenkel explains. “By adjusting fencing, landscaping and streetscape features, visibility can easily be improved to ensure people feel safe. It’s some of these little adjustments that can be made at street level so people know they’re under the watchful gaze of fellow community members.”


“Currently in Glen Eden, there are scenarios whereby children have to walk up to two kilometres to get to school, when in fact it is quite close to them. And the main road is so difficult to cross I would feel nervous about allowing a child over the road. This area just hasn’t been designed with them in mind. That needs to change.”

Of course, the nature and scale of future redevelopment is still largely unknown, so the report to the local board outlines several disruptive scenarios that can be mitigated through collaborative urban planning. One such scenario – a large sell-off of social housing, including state housing to private developers – could be pre-emptively moderated by buying housing stock so it remains in the hands of social housing providers, such as Vision West and the Salvation Army, and by establishing strong alliances with housing trusts. “Glen Eden is especially vulnerable to social disruption because of the high proportion of renters, so as the rate of change accelerates, it’s important for the local board to look at how the most vulnerable will fare,” says Kenkel. “By teasing out these possible scenarios and collaborating with the community to come up with solutions, the local board can lay down the groundwork to create a harmonious, vibrant community that works for everyone.” References: Allen, N. (2015) 'Understanding the Importance of Urban Amenities: A Case Study from Auckland' in Buildings. 2015, 5, 85-99. Auckland Council (2015) 'The Housing We’d Choose: A Study of Housing Preferences, Choices and Trade-Off s in Auckland', Auckland: Auckland Council.

contact David Kenkel

Winter 2017


How a food forest builds social savvy In an effort to ground himself and become more self-sufficient, Lecturer in Social Practice Allan McEvoy set about creating a food forest with his wife – but they ended up helping to grow a community. COMMUNITY

After 25 years in mental health, social and forensic work, Allan McEvoy was on the verge of burnout. So he extracted himself from the frontline and set a goal with his wife to produce as much food as possible from their Mt Albert, Auckland section. The only catch was, they had never done any serious work on their garden. Under the tutelage of a friend well versed in permaculture, the couple sourced dwarf rootstock and then went scavenging for materials to build the garden’s foundations. They salvaged wood, rocks, soil, bricks, pavers and drainage equipment from local bins and neighbours moving house, as well as hoses from building sites. When the couple began mulching trees, they received some apprehensive enquiries from their neighbours – who were convinced that infill housing was to follow. They were delightfully surprised, Allan says, to discover their neighbourhood would be home to a food forest. “In the first few months of creating our garden, we met and engaged with more people from our neighbourhood than we had in the previous


12 years that we had been living there.” One of the first seedlings the couple planted was a climber bean that produced an abundance of beans, so the McEvoys put a sign out front telling people to help themselves. That’s when they discovered the communitybuilding power of gardening. Stoked by the neighbourly interest in their ‘cathedral of green’ and the popularity of the climber beans, the McEvoys sought to further break down boundaries, ripping down a section of their hedge and planting new picking trees and vines. Allan says the passionfruit are remarkably popular and draw good crowds at harvest time, as will the feijoa trees when they mature. “It was a therapeutic thing to do after 25 years in mental health, I don’t think I could have foreseen its incredible benefits. It’s like everyone yearns to be connected to the earth; people will see you doing it and part of them wants to do it too. This gives people an excuse to make contact.”

Images © Allan McEvoy, Auckland, 2017.


Soon enough, they had neighbours sharing tips and tricks over glasses of wine. Unlike other hobbies, he says, gardening is a pastime that is genderless, ageless and egoless – so it has the power to bring people together from all walks of life. “It is not like a favourite fishing spot you want to keep to yourself. People are so helpful, they will come up to you and say, “Have you tried this? Or this?” A 70-year-old will happily take advice from a 20-year-old.”

"In the first few months of creating our garden, we met and engaged with more people from our neighbourhood than we had in the previous 12 years that we had been living there."

Fast-forward a year and the

McEvoys have connected with other likeminded Mt Albert residents. They seem to have unwittingly arrived at the epicentre of a neighbourhood green revolution, one they hope will spread like wildfire. “It’s still very much early days, though as our food forest has grown, so has the interest in it. Recently we’ve found ourselves starting vegetable patches for time-poor friends who’ve expressed an interest in gardening,” Allan says. “I look back on the past year and think, wow, we have begun the process of feeding ourselves, replenishing the earth, creating greater community connectivity and sharing the learning and skills we have gained. The nourishing effects of starting a food garden just really can’t be overstated.”

contact Allan McEvoy

Winter 2017


The science of change-making Short showers, car-free days and composting all benefit the environment – yet which are most effective when viewed through economic, social and environmental lenses? Unitec’s multi-disciplinary team found out when they created a matrix tool for the pilot of Kaipatiki Project’s sustainable lifestyle challenge.


In an attempt to break down the scary, unsolvable image of climate change, Kaipatiki Project’s Events and Projects Manager Toni van Tonder and her team set about creating the Sustainable Whanau Challenge in 2015. It was vital that the challenge helped people think about the little things they could do to reduce their environmental impact, and created sustainable, long-lasting change. The organisers asked participants to pick four challenges from a list of 10 and undertake those challenges for three weeks – long enough to be habit-forming. Programme Manager Anna Halliwell says the team brainstormed ideas for challenges, then quizzed people in the sector, to come up with a long list. “We eventually weeded it down to 10 challenges that ranged from reducing their shower time to minimising their meat intake.” During the three-week challenge period, the organisers encouraged the participants to blog, Snapchat and Tweet about their triumphs and tribulations, to spread the word and share the experience with others. In total, more than 400 households took part and many more conversations were sparked online around living sustainably.


After dishing out the prizes and congratulating themselves on the project’s initial success, the organisers decided to take stock, reanalyse the programme and scope out how they could make it bigger, better and, importantly, more effective. That’s when they decided to draw on the help of Unitec’s consultancy programme through the Metro Research and Enterprise Voucher Scheme. “After the first year, we came to the conclusion that the challenge needed some academic rigour, so we looked at the Metro scheme and we felt like Unitec was a perfect fit because it had a good mix of specialists in technical sciences and behaviour change research,” says Halliwell.

Trapani explains: “We looked at a number of these questions, such as which actions are easily adoptable? Which actions do we already see in society? Will it cost money or help them save? What are the larger economic effects to society, such as a reduction in traffic?” As well as weighing up the environmental benefits, Trapani says the team looked closely at financial and lifestyle considerations – these are crucial in determining whether a habit will be adopted in the long term. “The challenges needed to have a frame of reference that allowed people to pick several challenges that fitted with their lifestyle.


The team taking part in the project consisted of Senior Lecturer in Services Design Dr Paola Trapani, Genetics and Biostatistics Lecturer Dr Marie-Caroline Lefort, Business Adviser and Lecturer Ngaire Molyneux, and Research Partner (Enterprise) Gregor Steinhorn. Each academic weighted each challenge according to the three pillars of sustainability: environmental, social and financial. As well as being armed with a wealth of knowledge, Halliwell says the team came with a multitude of good questions.

For the elderly, quitting their car two times a week may be feasible, though they would be less amenable to adopting an all-organic food diet.” In the team's report, Trapani focused on aspects of the challenge such as social contagion, ease of adoption by people from all walks of life, and whether the challenge made something easier, cheaper or more fun. “It is vital to look at these challenges within a social sphere and weigh up what is supporting or hindering its adoption and spread. Bringing a reusable coffee cup to a café is highly visible and easily adopted, so if more and more people take this up, then soon you’ll reach a tipping point of mass adoption. We are all creatures of habit, so by influencing people’s everyday decisions you can create a big environmental impact.”

“The challenges needed to have a frame of reference that allowed people to pick several challenges that fitted with their lifestyle."

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Trapani gave a lower ranking for challenges such as taking public transport because the infrastructure and availability of services, although of great impact, were beyond the control of the individual. In order to cement this kind of behaviour in place, she says, community-driven change coupled with enabling environments and infrastructure is essential.

As these

“Research shows that nudging people is one of the most powerful tools for creating behaviour change, so we need to design environments that incorporate or normalise sustainable choices,” she says.

behind change-making,

“According to the United Nations, by 2050 it won't be possible for everyone to have private mobility. In 2050, it won't be possible to have our model of food consumption. In 2050, it won't be possible to maintain our housing model, so something needs to change.”

pressures build, Halliwell feels this sort of change can’t come soon enough. Now that she and her colleagues know a little more about the science

they’re in a better position to help seed this much-needed change. “In October, we’ll be relaunching the competition in conjunction with Auckland Council. We know each challenge comes with a sound scientific underpinning, so we can confidently say that although these are small actions, they can generate big environmental gains,” says Trapani.

The Metro Research and Enterprise Voucher Scheme is now called the ITP Innovate Voucher Scheme. Expressions of interest in collaborating with Unitec on a research or enterprise project can be made at


“Research shows that nudging people is one of the most powerful tools for creating behaviour change."

contact Anna Halliwell Dr Paola Trapani


Redefining how we remember

A Master of Architecture project bravely redefines the concept of a memorial, as it honours those who died at Pike River and in other workplace accidents. Each memorial in the three-site project, stretching from Pike River to Parliament, has a specific audience and a specific purpose – and at each memorial site, student Alexandra Riley pulled no punches to create salutary, poignant and evocative reminders of lessons that must be remembered.

trying to memorialise. I really wanted to relay the experience of what happened in the design,” says Riley.

"There was a conscious decision in my design to create something that was open-ended, though not too open-ended that it was meaningless."

One serves to preserve the memory of the Pike River tragedy; another touches on the seven West Coast mining incidents that took the lives of 128 men. The final one acts as a barbed reminder to parliamentarians to ensure the safety of not only miners, but of all New Zealanders in the workplace.

“Typically older memorials always tell you what to think. There was a conscious decision in my design to create something that was open-ended, though not too open-ended that it was meaningless.”

In order to eschew traditional memorial designs, Riley drew on the works of architects and artists Maya Lin, Daniel Libeskind, Michael Heizer, Peter Zumthor and Louise Bourgeois. Her three-part memorial works to create spaces that preserve memory, but don’t define it. “I spent a lot of time looking at New Zealand-based memorials; overall I didn’t get a feeling for what it was they were

Riley – who has a connection to the tragedy – started her Masters project by carefully teasing out the experiences of those miners who remain entombed underground. She scoured through books, articles, documentaries and interviews to get closer to the experiences of these miners and their families. Winter 2017



From this research, she came away with a visceral knowledge of not only the daily experience of miners working on the West Coast, but also a fuller understanding of the thoughts, memories and reflections of the survivors who managed to walk away from the tragedy. Perhaps the most deeply evocative work is the carefully placed memorial at Pike River, which is designed for the people who lost husbands, sons, nephews, grandsons and friends in the underground explosion on November 19, 2010. A nine-metre shaft takes visitors into a dark, silent tube that leads to a small window of light – which becomes brightest at 3.44pm, the time when the explosion occurred. Positioned to take in natural sunlight and stream water, the memorial is directly connected to the Pike River site: the stream water flows from the site and passes through the memorial.


The second site, located at Greymouth’s wharf, resembles an uplifted mineshaft, in essence laying bare the burrowed sites that lie beneath the feet of many locals. By creating a labyrinth of tunnels with passages suitable for large groups and individuals, Riley allows the visitor to experience the mineshaft in the company of their own feelings, or in the presence of others so they can share their thoughts and feelings. Constructed with carefully placed sightlines that reference the various tragedies, the memorial sits at the end of the river that the stream by Pike River feeds into, creating a strong physical connection to the site itself.

Image of Pike River mine location map, Ministry for Culture and Heritage, 17 Nov 2015.


"A nine-metre shaft takes visitors into a dark, silent tube that leads to a small window of light – which becomes brightest at 3.44pm, the time when the explosion occurred."

The third memorial, in Parliament’s grounds in Wellington, takes the form of five scars that are machine- and hand-moulded with concrete to mimic the mining shafts of the West Coast. Set underneath the triumphant statue of former prime minister Richard Seddon – a miner himself and an advocate of miners’ rights – the visceral nature of this memorial reminds parliamentarians of the very real pain inflicted when rigorous health-and-safety standards are not upheld.

from interviews, floored her lecturers on a conceptual and emotional level. Senior Lecturer in Architecture Graeme McConchie says, “We liked the way that Alex approached the memorial as an idea – traditionally we would build a statue and somehow glorify the event. It was definitely not that. It was about the toughness and tragedy that took place. The one near the site is almost primeval. It’s not comfy or easy, it is quite harsh and deliberately so,” he says.

“I think that New Zealand has this ‘she’ll be right’ attitude, so a memorial like this will be a reminder that a cavalier attitude to safety can have dire consequences,” says Riley.

“The work didn’t play safe, it left people thinking about what they had just seen. It created an emotional conduit to allow the New Zealand public to lay down a strong collective memory of this dark and important part of our history.“

Riley’s 400-page project, with drawings, 3D models, landscape studies and excerpts

contact Alexandra Riley Graeme McConchie

Images and drawings extracted from Alexandra Riley's 2016 Master of Architecture research project. Images © Alexandra Riley.

Winter 2017


New app for speedy sharing of breast milk A recently launched application, created by Unitec postgraduate student Vlad Sadovenko, is playing a crucial role in allowing mothers to easily and confidently share breast milk.


The app – called YouMilk – enables mothers without sufficient milk supplies to be matched to donors in their area through an process that is akin to Tinder.

milk supply with donors. However, Sadovenko says the existing forums are clunky.

“The idea for the project came about a year ago, when two of my friends became parents and they were having trouble providing their babies with enough milk. I suggested they look for an app and was surprised to find there were none for informal breast milk sharing,” says Sadovenko, who created the application as part of his postgraduate diploma in creative practice.

“Breast milk is shared largely though Facebook groups and these do not geo-locate the user. It is hard to publicly ask difficult questions of the donor, about their diet and lifestyle choices, so this platform allows the mothers to easily get the information they need,” Sadovenko says.

Mothers have shared milk for centuries, and in the last decade social-media platforms have helped to link mothers who have a low


“Some mothers may be looking for breast milk that comes from a smoke-free, medicationfree, vegetarian mother. Through this app they can do just that.”

To create YouMilk, Sadovenko formed a focus group with more than 90 mothers and a lactation expert, to ensure the application met its users’ needs and adopted best practice when it came to sharing milk safely. To register, donors are screened over a period of 2–3 days to ensure the quality of their milk. During this process, they must answer questions regarding medication, health and dietary issues such as allergic reactions. Once donors and recipients are matched, they can easily message each other and instantly arrange deliveries using sterile milk bags provided by the service. Sadovenko received start-up funding to cover the creation of the application and the first


"Some mothers may be looking for breast milk that comes from a smokefree, medication-free, vegetarian mother. Through this app they can do just that."

few months of operation costs. To ensure it is sustainable, he is looking to create a variety of funding streams through micro-donations, government funding and sponsorship. Already Sadovenko has received a significant amount of interest, not only from mothers, but also local and international authorities looking to provide breast milk in areas where milk banks are not available. “My goal is to cover the function of a milk bank in areas where they don’t provide coverage. Already I have had interest from Indonesia, India and Italy, so I am keen to take it further afield.”

contact Vlad Sadovenko

Winter 2017




When walls become canvases A Unitec lecturer and local students are using graffiti art to inject colour and conversation into an overlooked suburb.

These days a Unitec classroom isn’t just a room with desks and a lecturer up the front – it can involve graffiti art, collaboration and getting outdoors to liven up an Auckland suburb, too. Bobby Hung, Unitec’s academic leader in creative industries, runs the Certificate in Design and Visual Arts. He’s created graffiti art for 16 years under the handle Berst, and was part of the Unitec team involved in the Henderson Youth Arts Project, mentoring local youth to create vibrant public murals. Two years ago, Point Chevalier local Chris Casey approached Hung to help activate public spaces in the suburb’s shopping area – down the road from Unitec’s Mt Albert campus.


“Point Chevalier’s shops are not a destination in the way that, say, Ponsonby is – where people visit and hang around. A lot of people just come and go through Point Chevalier shops. So we wanted to activate it in some way, to make some important landmarks,” says Hung. Over a month last winter, he worked with five art and design students from nearby Western Springs College. The year 12 and 13 pupils learned about site analysis, how to scale up a work, and using spray cans and rollers. Then they took to the streets. “The students were extremely excited to work in a public space. It’s very different from a classroom setting: you engage with people

passing by, they ask you to explain your work, and you’re not isolated,” he says. Three projects are dotted around the suburb. Inside the Point Chevalier arcade, the students covered three tall boards in artworks based on their interests and cultures. On the sides of concrete planters along Great North Road, they created typographic pieces aimed at prompting conversations on social themes that concerned them: climate change, booze culture, and abuse. The largest project is a mural on a wall facing the Countdown supermarket car park. Inspired by comic books and cartoons, as well as products in the supermarket, the students created a cast of kooky characters. The slices of pizza wouldn’t look out of place in a Dali



"I like the fact you can put artwork in a public space and people can engage with it, whether they like it or dislike it. I don’t think art has to be in a gallery."

painting, a bottle of trim milk threatens to burst out of its label, and an egg looks very cross about being cracked. Hung acted as a facilitator for the students, rather than directing what was created. A Unitec student documented the project in photographs and video. It’s been so successful that Hung has secured funding for more murals, and is soon to begin work with students on a video that will be projected onto the local library’s windows. “Art has the power to engage students and transform a community. I like the fact you can put artwork in a public space and people can engage with it, whether they like it or dislike it. I don’t think art has to be in a gallery.”

Western Springs College year 12 and 13 students with their creations. Images © Bobby Hung.

contact Bobby Hung

Winter 2017


phone 0800 10 95 10 web Mt Albert campus 139 Carrington Rd Mt Albert Auckland 1025 WaitÄ kere campus 5-7 Ratanui St Henderson Auckland 0612

Advance magazine, winter 2017  

This issue focuses on placemaking: a concept aimed at strengthening the connection between people and the places they share, by creating the...

Advance magazine, winter 2017  

This issue focuses on placemaking: a concept aimed at strengthening the connection between people and the places they share, by creating the...