Wairarapa Home Comfort and Wellbeing Project 

The project is focused on year-round in-home comfort and wellbeing both now and going forward, with regard to indoor temperature, humidity and technologies that provide this comfort. The project started as part of Millie’s academic research and is now being continued alongside the existing Wairarapa Healthy Homes programme.

Millie Robinson is the researcher and can be contacted at

On Tuesday, THQ hosted our second workshop in the Wairarapa Project. We had a mixed group including some councillors, local iwi representative and interested members of the public.

At this workshop, we took people on a journey to a future where we have done all the right things, and we have homes that provide comfort and wellbeing to all – particularly the most vulnerable.

Due to the recent move to COVID Alert level 2, the workshop had to adapt. We hosted the event in two ways, online and in person. This worked well, as people had the flexibility to participate in person or at home if they preferred.

The workshop went through the research and some of the history of home comfort and wellbeing at a high level. We went through an introduction of the problems in the present, and then explained the “rules of time travel”. The workshop attendees then were able travel to the Wairarapa 100 years from now and brainstorm their vision for homes in the future. The range of contributors meant we could explore different visions and conclude on one summary vision of the future.

The feedback we received was very positive and people enjoyed themselves at the workshop. The next steps will be to assemble the themes in the vision for the future, which will them be used to create pathways to get this future. These pathways will involve creating shift projects.

Transition HQ will host another event in a months’ time where we will share our research and our suggestions for going forward.

If you asked me “Why do you believe climate change is real?” at first, my answer would be because I’ve been bombarded with headlines about it my whole life.

Now I have learnt about some of the science behind the claims and have been influenced by lecturers, reports, textbooks. And my education has shaped me to be more critical of headlines and more reliant on enumeration.

When we do a little maths, some research, when we enumerate, and when we recognise our biases we can largely do away with unfounded assumptions.

As part of the process of solving wicked problems, we put together research with numbers. This is partly conducting our own research, and partly making connections with other studies.

We follow our process of research that is enumerated, so that we don’t fall into one of many traps, such as:

  • The trap of believing the future is going to be the same as the present. Change can be a scary thought and it is tempting and easy to assume that there won’t be any change in future. But if we look at the world 100 years in the past, it becomes clear that we can and have changed. And that many of our changes have been good. By getting clear about the facts, we can avoid making unhelpful choices and decisions simply because we hope things will stay the same.

  • The trap of believing change is going to be linear. When we look at trends to do with change and particularly with climate change, things can feel linear or constant. However, some things take a long time coming and a short time arriving. Exponentials can look linear at first. We see this with climate change, when positive feedback loops start adding up so that what once might have been linear becomes exponential. This trap is about misreading trends and getting surprised by sudden or dramatic change.

  • The trap of falling for biases or assumptions. This happens because as humans, it is good to be trusting of people around us. We are all raised in different ways to believe different things and have own stories. This trap is about separating beliefs and emotions from facts.

When dealing with wicked problems to do with climate change like we are here, there is a whole lot of emotion involved. And so, I understand it is easier to believe a positive sounding headline, such as “X is the solution we need to run on 100% renewables”. Often these solutions don’t already exist for a reason and a little maths and enumeration can show this.

Looking further, enumerating our research and understanding these traps will lead us to solutions that are founded on good sense and reason. We will then be able to provide real solutions that provide meaningful change. Also, when people get to understand the real numbers and facts we hope that it is easier for them to accept and embrace new ideas for transition.

The scope of comfortable homes was confirmed with the stakeholders at the local council. We sought Iwi perspectives from the beginning. We defined Home Comfort and Wellbeing and outlined where our focus would be, and what would be delivered. We could then get to work on outlining areas where research was needed. In order to get to the future we choose, we need to understand the problem fully, this means we must understand the current technologies and their impacts on the local and global community.

A research matrix was drawn up and research in the necessary areas has begun. An Iwi representative was consulted again this week. In our meeting, I learned the about the history of homes and wellbeing in the Wairarapa from a Māori perspective, as this was missing from the history in the archives.

It was outlined in the scope that this project would focus on homes for the most vulnerable. This was defined as those most affected by unhealthy homes which includes the elderly, families with young children, people with disabilities, and people with lower socioeconomic status. We acknowledge that Māori are often overrepresented in lower socioeconomic areas due to our inherited past. It is therefore important that this project can benefit Māori and to do that it needs to include Māori genuinely.

I alone cannot speak for Māori as I am Pakeha, but I can be the best partner I can be. We have been given the opportunity to continue to korero with an Iwi representative on a weekly basis. This is going to give the project guidance so we arrive at a better understanding of the possibilities that will make sense culturally to those affected by the problem. It is easy to make assumptions about what we think a solution might be, but without fully understanding the problem(s) we might be trying to solve the wrong one.

Poem by Ra Smith


These lands have fed us from Kupe’s footprint

Through the mini ice age freezing our kumara,

But we survived on aruhe, tuna and rongoa.

From lines of fault bubbles glistening waters

That feed the world in paddocks of meat, but

Our whenua isn’t just capitalized potential.

Rivers’ soothing mirimiri chills us in summer,

Beaches’ rhythms are heard in land’s heartbeat,

Mountains’ winds blow through our stresses,

Tangata whenua know the worth of home.