Accommodation Options for Older People in Aotearoa/New Zealand

Accommodation Options for Older People in Aotearoa…
01 Jan 2004

The ageing of the population will have significant implications for society and for the economy as a whole. Ensuring the wellbeing of older people will be a challenge, as the age composition of the population changes, requiring attention to be given to groups of older people who are especially vulnerable or disadvantaged. Housing ranks high among the factors which influence wellbeing, thus the availability of suitable accommodation to meet the needs of an ageing population is a central issue for policy and planning in all sectors.

The report incorporates information from the present situation, projections for the future, international examples and informed opinions from stakeholders in the housing sector. It uses these to look to the future and ask what types of accommodation will best meet the needs of a rapidly ageing New Zealand population and improve the quality of life for older people, especially those with low incomes, renters, Maori, Pacific people and women.

Housing plays a variety of roles in people’s lives. As well as providing shelter it is a form of investment and contributes to economic, social and psychological security. These latter ‘intangible’ factors can be at least as important as the tangible and monetary costs and benefits of different housing options. Housing conditions influence both physical and mental health, but the inter-relationship is not simple. The important intervening variables are income and housing tenure. Maori or Pacific ethnicity and female gender are additional factors, operating through income levels and earning opportunities.


In order to provide a factual basis for the analysis of future options, the study began with a scoping phase, from November 2003 to February 2004. This brought together data on the current housing situation of older people in New Zealand, analysing their general characteristics, dwelling types, incomes and household tenure. The information fed into a cost/benefit analysis of the current housing models ranging along a continuum from independence to dependence. The scoping phase also included a review of international literature to identify relevant issues and innovative strategies for housing older people.

Information from the scoping studies, and the original research proposal, generated questions for the consultation phase of the project, which took place from March to May 2004. Sets of questions were developed for central and local government, for voluntary agencies, for Maori and Pacific communities (Appendix 1). Appendix 2 lists the people and individuals who were consulted and discusses the processes adopted.

The third stage of the study was a synthesis of material drawn from the wide range of sources already outlined, focusing on models of housing for older people, and issues related to them,  which are likely to be appropriate in the New Zealand context, given the trends identified. A range of stakeholders had the opportunity to comment on these models, and issues related to them, at two round table meetings in early June. These discussions also helped to inform the findings of the study and the policy implications which have been drawn out.

In line with the multi-disciplinary approach mentioned above, the two research organisations – NZiRA and BERL – worked closely together at every stage of the project. In addition, collaborators provided specialised input from the Maori and Pacific Island perspectives and case studies have been used to give in-depth examples, by region and by sector.

Page last modified: 15 Mar 2018