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Are Our Homes Our Castles?

Scientists are figuring out what makes the relationship between New Zealanders and their homes unique.

With an investment from the Public Good Science Fund Science, Professor David Thorns of Canterbury University and Dr Harvey Perkins of Lincoln University are conducting the first in-depth study into New Zealanders and their homes. The research looks at attitudes to the home, and what changing attitudes will mean for the future of houses and communities.

Researchers have been interviewing households across Christchurch. Home owners have been conducting tours of their houses and commenting on the features that are important to them, the factors they like and the ones they want to change.

“How we make our home is both a result of our conscious actions and the constraints to our choices which arise from the wider environment within which our house is set,” says Professor Thorns.

“Houses and gardens are being transformed, some by choice and some by necessity, the economic restructuring of the past 15 years has created an increase in self employment, many people now work from home giving rise to the home office.”

Around 70% of New Zealand homes are owned rather than rented, this rate is one of the highest in the world.

“The bond between New Zealanders and their homes is still strong. We tend to see our homes as a focus for hobbies such as decorating or gardening rather than just some where to live, and at least during years of high inflation, they have been significant investments for the future,” says Professor Thorns.

Kiwi homes also reflect the lives and the memories of those living in it “The links to past generations are there in the photographs, the family memorabilia that have been passed on through inheritance. The current life experiences are captured through such things as design of the house and the artifacts which are within the room and the plants and trees within the gardens”.

The research will also take a look at house and garden magazines to decide whether or not these publications reflect our homes or dictate the trends.

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