18 August 2019

Ngai Tuhoe's new Eco Village project


Klein Director Dan McNelis shares some of the thinking behind proposals for Ngai Tuhoe's new Eco Village project with the New Zealand Herald.

Communal living is nothing new, especially to iwi, and there are some stunning contemporary variations scattered around the globe, especially in Chile and Scandinavian countries that work extremely well. West Auckland's Earthsong has been running successfully since conception in 1995. Its website boasts "socially and environmentally sustainable living nurturing a flourishing ecosystem, while encouraging a sense of community while safeguarding privacy and autonomy". These goals align with Tūhoe's philosophy, with the foundation for the village not reinforced concrete, but "kindness, health and wellbeing".

Pawing over the plans with Auckland-based Klein's lead architect Dan McNelis, he clarifies the difference between the project and Earthsong. There is the advantage of 20 years of advancement in building and eco-technology as well as Tūhoe's philosophy for the quality of life for its people. The prototype has its principles embedded in Tuhoe's philosopy of ManaMotuhake (the right or condition of self-government) and its spiritual connection to the Ureweras.

And like Te Kura Whare, its aim is to meet the vigorous standards of the Living Building Challenge.

McNelis points to the village footprint on the 1.7ha site, explaining it allows for future development. A large car parking area is kept well away from housing. Shared driving will be encouraged, as will the use of electric vehicles. From the carpark you must walk. The aged and mobility-restricted will have the closest dwellings and will use buggies if needed. The path leads to a spacious communal building, where there are shared kitchens and laundries, and a gathering area for whānau. There are ample activity areas for children, accommodation for visitors; it's a long list. The path then splits and splinters to six blocks with about four dwellings inside each.

Tūhoe envisage 23 to 25 north-facing homes for 70 to 75 people across a range of ages. The buildings have configurations of one to four bedrooms catering for a broad range of families. Some may be loft-style, others will be fitted for the aged and mobility-restricted.

Full article available on the nzherald.co.nz.

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