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Earth Building in NZ

See the full article on the NZ Herald

Increasing the demand for homes made from a repackaging of papatuanuku, the earth, is what a low-cost housing project in the Far North hopes to achieve.

Auckland University's Engineering School has been leading research into the performance of uku housing - a building method which involves mixing earth, flax and cement to use as a base material.

But civil engineering PhD student John Cheah, who is working with the Ahipara community to develop a house by the end of 2010, one of only a handful this decade, says it is an idea that rural Maori have yet to be sold on.

Researchers have identified that group as a significant component of the population who have a lower-than-average quality of health because of housing issues.

"A lot of them like it, they don't have the idea of earth as poor or undesirable, but they need some more evidence that they're quality. They want to visit a friend who has an earth house, they want to go touch it," Mr Cheah said.

The research aims to "equip rural Maori communities with the knowledge to use their own earth and labour to build desirable housing".

See the full article on the NZ Herald

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