Make housing developments more culturally friendly - architect

Source: Q and A

A leading Māori architect says new housing developments need to more culturally appropriate and designed with Māori and Pasifika families in mind.

A marae designed by Rau Hoskins.

Rau Hoskins told Q+A with Jack Tame that in the wake of the housing crisis, the initial effort has been to build, build, build.

“I think it's to be applauded that the Government is finally putting major resourcing Into getting the volume of our state housing up. The next challenge is looking at the quality of those environments for Māori, Pacific and inter-generational whānau.”

However, he says the focus on multi-level terrace house developments has meant many houses don’t cater for whānau with disabled members, or allow for inter-generational living.

“We've had not only that style of house dictated to us, but we've had the planning dictated to us from standard plan books. And that was from the very early Māori Affairs houses right through to our medium density terraced housing that's proliferating in Māngere and Mt Roskill and other parts of the country today," said Hoskins.

READ MORE: How Kiwibuild failed Māori and Pasifika

"So, we've struggled, I think, and still do struggle to actually have power over the actual planning of those environments at the macro level as well as the micro level to make sure that our own family dynamics can be accommodated within those more dense environments.

“There's been a blinkered view of: 'No, no, don't complicate this. We've got a housing crisis. We need to just build, build, build, build.' And I'm saying — and other people are saying volume is great. We now need to look at the very real issues of quality and cultural appropriateness, and particularly around the size and the groundedness or ungroundedness of some of those environments.”

Hoskins is currently a director of designTRIBE architects, and is a lecturer at Unitec in Auckland.