Aotearoa—the land of the long white cloud. Home to over 5 million people. Ever since the first people landed here over 700 years ago, everyone who has come to Aotearoa New Zealand has sought a home. From the first Māori settlers to the quarter-acre section dream, notions of home, house, land, family, ownership, and stewardship have been central to the stories of every person who has arrived on these shores and their descendants.
But there’s trouble here—a housing crisis on multiple fronts. We’re told that we don’t have enough houses. We can’t seem to build them fast enough. Why? On top of that, not enough people can buy their own homes to get their foot on the property ladder. We’re crammed into cities with poor public transport and sub-par infrastructure. Our rural communities are declining. Two years of COVID have changed how we live and work, often blending these once distinct realms to our mental and emotional detriment. To top it all off, suburban intensification—once seen as the great answer to our housing shortage—may destroy our cities’ character.
This latest Flint & Steel explores all these issues and more. We ask some necessary questions. How did we get to this place? How can people achieve their dream of home ownership and retain their sanity? How might we repair the construction industry? What about global supply chains? How does our desire for land and place need to be tempered? What’s it like to be homeless? Can we, or should we, change our culture so that we don’t desire so much space?
In many ways, we’re ultimately trying to answer the question: “What is home?”
I hope you’ll be encouraged as you read through this year’s edition of Flint & Steel. Good news is out there. There are people—as you will see—who are innovating, who are making different choices. They’re building log cabins and yurts. They’re rethinking our relationship with the land. They’re offering advice on how we might bring back work-life balance while working at home. The reflections take the form of prose, a photo essay, poetry and cartoons. There’s something for everyone.
We’re only 5 million strong, but we’re a place people choose to call home. Let’s make it the best home we can.
Jason Heale – Editor