Research / Healthy food and physical activity environments


Investigating the impact of transport and community infrastructure on peoples’ health and wellbeing

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Project Status: Active Funding: $2,482,655 Timeframe: May 2020 – June 2024

Tā mātou e tūhura ana

What we are investigating

Take | Issue

Lack of exercise is a risk factor for poor health. Active travel can enhance health and wellbeing but many neighbourhoods in Aotearoa New Zealand are not designed to promote it. Improvements to transport and community infrastructure could address this gap but the best combination of interventions is still unknown.

Whāinga | Aim

This research aims to investigate the impact of transport and community infrastructure on peoples’ health and wellbeing. It will evaluate different ways of “retro-fitting” the design of our cities, and increase transport choice, to encourage more active modes of travel and reduce car dependence.

Huarahi I Whāia | Approach

The project will explore interventions that best fit with local opportunities and preferences across two locations, Māngere and central Christchurch. Once interventions are implemented, the research team will measure health and wellbeing-related impacts using survey and observational research.

In Māngere, the project will build on an intervention where neighbourhood streets have been retro-fitted to prioritise active travel. The project will investigate the impact of locally co-designed activities – aimed at increasing the connectivity of walking and biking infrastructure – on physical activity, social connection and safety.

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


This project is funded by:

Ageing Well and Healthier Lives National Science Challenges.

Research presentation: Healthy physical activity environments
Healthier Lives Kōrero Tahi 2024: equity and beyond (13-14 February 2024)

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Knowledge Exchange

Kōnae Whakaata | Video

Project Team

Research Partners

Canterbury DHB Matapopore Charitable Trust NZ Transport Agency Ōtautahi Community Housing Trust Safe and Healthy Streets South Auckland (SHSSA) Time-to-Thrive Various teams within Christchurch City Council

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