Great minds came together for Urbanism Aotearoa 2023 to help create better urban environments. Sponsored by Ngā Ara Whetū, the conference last month attracted organisations and urban professionals to stimulate discussions and propose innovative solutions to the challenges of today.


Senior lecturer in architecture and planning Timothy Welch, who attended the conference as an Ngā Ara Whetū delegate, said the event was a success.


“The Urbanism Aotearoa conference was a fantastic mix of academia, industry, public agencies and policymakers putting heads together to envision a better future for New Zealand’s cities,” Welch said.


The conference featured some 80 speakers and panellists, and address questions regarding mātauranga Māori, kaitiakitanga of the natural world, co-delivering change, post-Covid pandemic conditions, viable development, and integrated systems thinking.

Photo by Maryan Ivasyk on Unsplash


Climate responsiveness was the obvious and ever-present theme discussed, with participants exploring sustainable urban design strategies to tackle the challenges posed by climate change. This included creating environmentally friendly and resilient urban environments that can adapt to a changing climate. Welch came back from the conference confident.


“It was inspiring to see the diversity of issues being addressed but so many dedicated minds, from fair housing, regeneration technology and innovation and beyond,” said Welch. “I walked away from the conference with renewed energy and new ideas for my work in sustainable and equitable transport and infrastructure.”


Designing for a healthy urban environment was emphasised, aiming to promote physical and mental well-being, encourage active lifestyles, and enhance community engagement. The conference delved into how urban design can contribute to improved public health outcomes and overall quality of life.


The conference shed light on the need for efficient and sustainable infrastructure systems, ensuring connectivity between different neighbourhoods and regions. The goal was to develop integrated and accessible urban networks that facilitate the movement of people and goods.


Overall, Urbanism Aotearoa served as a platform to generate ideas and inspire action for creating inclusive, sustainable, and thriving urban spaces in New Zealand. The conference presented exciting opportunities for new ways of urban design, incorporating indigenous perspectives, addressing climate change, promoting public health, and involving communities in shaping their cities’ future.


To see what Ngā Ara Whetū is doing to help the world, check out our submissions to on policy here.


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