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

After defining the Wicked Problem with the community at the kick-off event, we are narrowing down the scope for the project. With completion of the project scheduled for end of February 2021 we have limited time and resources, so in order to achieve the most useful results, the community members we had met, were consulted for their input on what the scope should look like. We want a scope that leads to a project that the community would get the most value from.

While the scope was being shaped, I could begin working on understanding the inherited past. Masterton Library and the Wairarapa Archive were the best resources for developing a picture of the past. Understanding our history is an important step of the transition engineering process, but it is also fun!

While the archives are incredible resources, it is important to remember that what is recorded of our history is through a certain perspective. That perspective is (mostly) Pakeha, male, and upper-middle class. Photographs were only taken of what this group of people thought was extraordinary. And on top of that, photography indoors in the cold winter evenings was almost impossible due to lack of lighting. Still, talking to the historians and looking at these images, I can start to paint the picture of how the essential need was met.

Aside from my project, this week was a big week in the Transition Engineering world. The Convergence for a Carbon Transition Conference was held on Thursday 26th November. This was a No-Fly conference held in several locations across the country and online. At the Wellington location, I met with many likeminded people who want to get down to working on the problem.

On Wednesday, I was interviewed on RNZ about my experience as an Engineering Student emerging into the world of Climate Emergency, to promote the Carbon Convergence. You can listen to that here –

Image from Masterton library – The annual wood chop

The project kicked off this week with a successful event at Waiata House kindly hosted by the Masterton District Council. The workshop was attended by Carterton and Masterton District councilors and staff, and a Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa iwi representative on Masterton District Council, Greater Wellington council staff and Transition-HQ. Millie Robinson and Grant Symons attended in person, while Fiona van Petegem attended via video link.

The main objective of the workshop was to introduce The Transition-HQ approach and then to work with the group to explore the nature and boundaries of Healthy Homes Programme, so that the ongoing research scope and focus areas can be confirmed.

The attendees learned some key parts of the methodology used by Transition-HQ, then worked through an example of a wicked problem. The wicked problem framework is part of the Transition Engineering InTime process being applied.

We split into groups and worked through the wicked problem framework. The groups diversity lead to a broad understanding of the intricacies of the wickedness and gave me insight into the different perspectives. Together, we arrived at a shared understanding of the problem.

Now, we will formalise the Wicked Problem and identify areas we can focus the research on. Ideally we are aiming to identify projects that will be helpful and implementable in future.

Next, we will study the past – with a focus on the main areas identified in the problem framing process.