Te Tāpui Atawhai Auckland City Mission Homeground Rooftop Garden

Name of case study

Te Tāpui Atawhai Auckland City Mission Homeground Rooftop Garden


Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand




Building/ site



NbS employed

Created or constructed living ecosystems.

Type of NbS

Rooftop agriculture


Auckland City Mission


NZ Government, private donors, Trust.


For entire project including the roof, NZ Government $NZ18 million, Donors $NZ40 million, Trust $NZ8 million

Design group

  • Architects: Stevens Lawson co-designing with Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei
  • Landscape: Boffa Miskell
Residents tend to the vegetable garden on the roof at HomeGround. Photo by Mark Smith.
HomeGround rooftop garden. Photo by Mark Smith.
Climate change benefits
  • Biomass cover loss
  • Increased temperatures
  • Indirect health, social, cultural climate change impacts
  • Loss of food production
  • Loss of other ecosystem services
  • Reduced air quality
  • Reduced soil quality
  • Urban heat island effect
Societal / socio-cultural benefits
  • Climate change adaptation
  • Economic and social development
  • Food security and quality
  • Human physical health and wellbeing
  • Pressures of urbanisation 
  • Rights / empowerment / equality / tino rangatiratanga
Ecological benefits
  • Food production (for humans)
  • Habitat provision
  • Pollination
  • Purification (of water, soil, air)

Summary of case study

HomeGround is Te Tāpui Atawhai – Auckland City Mission’s new purpose-built social services and supportive living facility, offering a wide range of services and facilities to those in greatest need, while also making available its amenities for the wider community. It provides permanent housing, expanded health and social services, addiction withdrawal facilities, and a comprehensive program of activities.

Designed by Stevens Lawson in partnership with Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, and Auckland City Mission’s staff and clients, the co-design process at HomeGround reflects inclusivity and community engagement to achieve a vision of connection, sustainability, well-being and healing through design. With accommodation for 80 residents and multiple communal spaces, the intention was to redefine housing as more than just shelter and as a catalyst for holistic growth and support. 

Located on top of the HomeGround building is a rooftop māra kai (community food garden), known as Matatihi, with a glasshouse garden, vegetable beds, and an outdoor kitchen equipped for tenants’ use. The rooftop not only offers a space to grow food and nurture horticultural skills but is central for enhancing well-being, connection, and a sense of community. Inspired by Melbourne’s Common Ground supportive housing initiative, the rooftop garden reflects a shared belief in not only the importance of food security but also connecting with nature, particularly in dense urban environments where access to green space is increasingly limited. Former Mission deputy chair Celia Caughey championed the idea of a garden, emphasising the need for urban greenery and cultivation.

Volunteer teams grow vegetables and fruit, which include herbs, lettuce, coffee, tea and bananas. The planting of the māra kai also includes native plants that have medicinal, culinary and cultural significance for Māori including kawakawa and kūmara among other plant and food species. Matatihi connects to the community gardens that surround St. Matthews in the city where composting bins are located, which are also maintained by Mission clients and tenants. The rooftop garden is a part of HomeGround’s sustainability vision, foregrounded by its cross-laminated timber structure, making it the tallest structural timber building in Aotearoa New Zealand. While the rooftop garden is on a smaller scale compared with large scale urban rooftop farms abroad, it demonstrates a step towards innovative ways for people to access locally grown food, as a major challenge to urban food production and subsequently food security is land availability and access (Sprecht et al., 2014). The rooftop garden also anticipates the need to increase vegetation in dense urban areas, using ordinarily underutilised parts of buildings (the roof). The benefits of this increased vegetation include carbon sequestration and cooling increased ambient temperatures caused by the urban heat island effect.

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