Editor's Letter: Fresh As

Our editor finds hope in a very wet start to 2023.

Editor's Letter: Fresh As

Our editor finds hope in a very wet start to 2023.

There’s something about the breaking of a new year that lulls us all into a sense of optimism, which is quite lovely really. 

That was particularly true this year, as we happily bid farewell to 2022. Then: rain. And more rain. We went away for a week, and in our absence Tāmaki Makaurau got a whole pile more rain. Biblical, they called it, which I rather liked until we began to hear reports of massive flooding and we just started to worry about our city and the people in it. 

In the following days, Aucklanders, at least, realised that this is what climate change looks like. (And hey, Christchurch, acknowledging you’ve had a corker!) It’s not just warmer, and it’s not that gentle shift in seasons we’ve all vaguely noticed but tried hard to ignore. It’s volatility. 

At the same time, the news reported the property market was set to fall by 20 percent from its peak in November 2021: the biggest and fastest fall in New Zealand history – a statistic offset only by the fact that the preceding rise had been the biggest and fastest in history too. The country is teetering on the edge of recession. Then Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern resigned, saying she had nothing left in the tank, which is something I think a lot of people related to.

You can get downcast by all that, or you can reclaim a sense of optimism by making positive change. According to a story I read the other day, 90 percent of new vehicles sold by 2027 will be electric – the wheel turns slowly, and then it turns really fast. Similarly, Air New Zealand is rolling out zero-emissions planes on its domestic network. These are not perfect solutions – lithium; the carbon cost of manufacturing and shipping – but it’s still, finally, the kind of wholesale shift we need to make as a society. 

We started to plan this issue late last year, but even then, I felt like we needed it to be both optimistic and different, both uplifting and exciting. So the houses we’ve featured, in all their various ways, are stories of making things better – from all perspectives.

They present fresh thinking, whether it’s a co-housing group in Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington overcoming the challenges of the market, or a family in Tāhuna Queenstown converting a drafty earth-brick barn into a warm, dry and very stylish house, or a couple proving a new home is accessible if you build small.

They respect materials – many are renovations rather than completely new buildings – and they’re not very big, but they are built well. They’re also just really cool, and nowhere is that better seen than with our cover star. I hope you find something in them.


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