A discussion night in Hamilton was a major milestone in a Cambridge couple’s mission to build a cohousing community in the Waikato.
Brad White, Vicki Bullick and their team — Kirikiriroa Intentional Communities — hosted the event at Agora Event Centre. More than 200 people came, with a queue down the street.
In co-housing, people typically own homes and jointly own the land and shared facilities.
The idea originated in Denmark in the 1960s and has spread through Europe and North America, with popularity rapidly growing in New Zealand.
The audience heard from nine guest speakers about how cohousing and other models can be viable and affordable housing developments.
MC, Cambridge’s Brad White, said the event aimed to give an insight into alternative ways of living in the Waikato.
“We want to give you a glimpse of connected living and affordability and how these models of housing can be integrated in any part of any region in New Zealand.”
Guest speaker, Hamilton’s Simon Perry, chairman of Perry Group spoke about Te Awa Lakes, a development of 1000 homes built on a triangular block of land which borders the Waikato Expressway and Waikato River.
Of the 1000 houses, 400 will be affordable housing which will need to be below the median house price under Hamilton’s special housing areas act, if it follows government standards.
Perry Group also has plans to build a theme park as part of the development, with early concepts showing go-karting and water skiing as just some of the possible activities.
“The theme of this is live, work and play,” Simon said.
“We’re trying to create a connected living environment.” Another guest speaker was Mark Southcombe, senior lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington’s School of Architecture.
Mark said the idea of collective urban housing was spreading across New Zealand “like a tsunami”. “There is a cultural change. “Younger people do not think the same way about housing any more — partly because they are disenfranchised, partly because they don’t want to raise their kids by themselves.”
Bobbie Cornell and Nicci Armour from CLOSER, an organisation which designs and builds affordable living eco-systems using co-housing methods, spoke about their pilot project in Katikati.
The development features 19 small homes, parking, a common house and outdoor spaces on 0.5ha.
Nicci said there needed to be a cultural shift in New Zealand in the way people build and own houses.
“Do we need to have our own block of land and a house that we 100 per cent own, or can we look at a different model and realise there are ways of thriving outside that?”
Another guest speaker was Claire Newman from Christchurchbased Office for Holistic Urbanism (OHU).
OHU is a community-minded project development company working with groups of New Zealanders to build collectively-owned buildings.
“We offer traditional property development expertise but put community at the heart of all we do,” Claire said.
OHU works with communities to develop assets to sustain and strengthen their community and generate social, economic and financial returns.
Cambridge woman Jess Maugham attended the event with her husband Dave.
“I thought it was excellent,” Jess said.
“I appreciated the diversity — it covered a lot more aspects than I expected, showing the idea of cohousing is a lot more complex that I realised.”
Jess said she was open to the idea of co-housing and connected living in the Waikato.
“We like being challenged and having our minds broadened to see if it’s a good fit for us.”
Jess is a youth pastor at Cambridge’s Bridges Church, and said her social needs are well met through the church community and her nearby family.
“Our priorities for joining a community like this would be sustainability, community and creativity — being opening to doing things outside of the box.”
Organiser Vicki Bullick, from Kirikiriroa Intentional Communities, says she was overwhelmed with the turnout and support.
“The intention was to plant seeds and give people ideas of how living can be different, connected and affordable. And I think we achieved that.
“We were able to provide stimulating and inspiring content and we hope this is a platform to move forward from.”
Kirikiriroa Intentional Communities is hosting an intentional community meet-up on Saturday, December 8 at 2pm, venue to be confirmed.
For more information find Kirikiriroa Intentional Communities on Facebook.
Guest speakers talk about how co-housing and other models can be viable. From left, Bobbie Cornell and Nicci Armour from CLOSER, Greer O’Donnell of The Urban Advisory, senior lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington’s School of Architecture Mark Southcombe, tiny house advocate Belinda Gelston, chairman of Perry Group chairman Simon Perry, Claire Newman from Office for Holistic Urbanism (OHU) and Hamilton City Council planning manager Fraser McNutt.