BRANZ hosts last National Science Challenge

June 2016

The final National Science Challenge, Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities: Ko ngā wā kāinga hei whakamāhorahora (BBHTC) has begun. The event on 5 May was launched by Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce.

This last National Science Challenge is being led by IRANZ member, the Building Research Association of New Zealand, BRANZ.  BRANZ CEO Chelydra Percy says it is a milestone for the organisation, and will help ensure the Challenge has a practical and applied focus. “BRANZ is an organisation at the interface between science and the building and construction sector. We are passionate about lifting standards, challenging the status quo and driving the sector forward.”

Professor Richard Bedford, Chair of the Challenge governance group, believes one of the most exciting aspects of this Challenge is the difference it can make. “The real challenge is to create environments in which all New Zealanders can live well and lead fulfilling lives. Together, the Challenge partners are taking a holistic perspective; exploring ideas, innovation and new technology; promoting new ways of thinking; and will ultimately propose solutions that provide all New Zealanders with a greater choice of living styles, nurture our sense of community and enable us all to live well.”

The Challenge partners, which include BRANZ, Opus Research, all eight New Zealand Universities, GNS Science, Scion, the Centre for Research, Evaluation and Social Assessment, Prefab NZ and Auckland Council, are a great mix of independent research associations as well as universities and crown research organisations. The Challenge partners are also collaborating directly with industry, iwi, local and central government, and communities.

Professor Bedford says this collaboration is essential to deliver robust evidence and improve end-to-end industry and regulatory processes. “The issues and opportunities facing New Zealand’s built environment are many and various. They range from demographic changes – Kiwis are living longer in an increasingly diverse society – through to the need to take greater account of sustainability, effective land use, the impacts of accelerating climate change and the vexing issue of housing affordability.”

Challenge Director Ruth Berry, said that Kāinga Tuatahi, an innovative residential development on Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei tribal land, was chosen as the place for the launch, because it “embodies the principles, objectives and aspirations of the Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities: ko ngā wā kāinga hei whakamahorahora Challenge.”

The Challenge Research Plan is focused around six initial Strategic Research Areas:

  • Transforming Homes, Towns and Cities by Understanding and Re-tooling the Architecture and Logics of Decision-Making
  • Next Generation Information for Better Outcomes
  • Supporting Success in Regional Settlements
  • Shaping Places: Future Neighbourhoods
  • Ka Whanake Ngā Papakāinga Hei Mauri Ora: Papakāinga evolving to enhance mauri
  • Transforming the Building Industry

“Once the initial tranche of research is confirmed we will begin the process for our first contestable funding round. Expect announcements about this towards the end of the year,” says Ms Berry, “The Challenge website is live ( As the Challenge develops we will expand and add to the content so that it is a reliable first port of call for the Challenge.”

For more information about BRANZ:

Following the launch of the challenge: Hon Steven Joyce, Minister of Science and Innovation (centre left), then from left, BRANZ CEO, Chelydra Percy, BRANZ Board members; Alan Bickers, Richard Merrifield and Kevin Stanley, BRANZ staff Richard Capie, BRANZ Challenge Director Ruth Berry, and BRANZ staff Lynda Amitrano. Photo: BRANZ.

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Kāinga Tuatahi Development, site of the launch of the Building Better Homes Towns and Cities: Ko ngā wā kāinga hei whakamahorahora National Science Challenge. Photo: BRANZ.