29 Jul 2021

ACTIVATION – Activating Change through InterVentions for Active Travel in our Neighbourhoods – is a major research collaboration that is investigating the impact of transport and community infrastructure on peoples’ health and wellbeing over four years. The project is led by Professor Karen Witten of Massey University and involves researchers from numerous universities and research groups across New Zealand.

Active travel, such as walking, biking and using public transport, offers effective and equitable ways to increase physical activity across the whole population. ACTIVATION will investigate ways of “retro-fitting” the design of our cities that will encourage more active modes of travel and reduce car dependence.

It is centred on two different urban sites, one in the North Island at Māngere in South Auckland and the other in the South Island at new developments in central Christchurch.

In Māngere, a community with a high proportion of Pacific and Māori residents, the project will build on an intervention where neighbourhood streets designed for car use have been retro-fitted to prioritise active travel.  The project will work with Safe and Healthy Streets South Auckland (SAHSSA), a collaboration between housing, transport and community agencies. It will be a unique opportunity to investigate the impact of locally co-designed activities aimed at increasing the connectivity of walking and biking infrastructure on residents’ physical activity, social connection and safety.

In Christchurch, research focussed on new higher density city building developments will investigate changes in travel practices associated with moving house to higher density central city living.  Interviews and surveys with residents and stakeholders will explore the factors that ensure success, such as attitude and behaviour change, and regulatory and institutional requirements. The research will inform ways in which transport and housing design can be integrated to encourage active mobility in urban regeneration programmes.

This major research collaboration has been jointly funded by two of New Zealand’s National Science Challenges, Ageing Well and Healthier Lives, and will receive $2.443 million over four years.

This study was funded under the Ageing Well National Science Challenge Strategic Investment Initiatives.