The Website of the
Eco-Village, and Cohousing
Assoc of New Zealand


Home Page Editorial December 99:
Politics and Law

Well theres a lot here this season for those with a twinkle in the eye for legal matters. The proposed Eco-Village Handbook is going ahead and will be produced in accordance with Standards NZ protocols, the Unit Title Reform process moves a step further, and the Cohousing project is looking for help with convincing the authorities to allow on-site wastewater systems.

A Wellington planning consultancy has initated the production of, believe it or not, A Sustainable Development Handbook--Ecovillages and Cohousing. This will serve as resource material for developers and councils when working with innovative developments. EVCNZ has been invited along with 6 other parties to be a participating stakeholder in the standards development process.

I am mindful of Robert Gilman's warning to watch out for mainstream parties comandeering the EcoVillage concept and corrupting it, and hence feel that this is an important oppurtunity for us. The Standards NZ process works largely on a consensus basis, so our voice will be useful. We are asked to nominate 2 representives, involving 4 meetings in Wellington, and a fair bit of email etc. John and Doug have indicated support along with myself. We feel it is important that there be a strong ongoing two way dialog between our rep(s) and the ecovillage community, and so are calling for interest from anyone who would like to participate.

After the publication of a preliminary paper in Jan 99 (to which a submission was made on the associations behalf), the law commission has now released its Report No.59 on the Reform of Shared Ownership of Land. The lawcom recommends that a bill go before the house in 2000(+) that amends several acts, including the Unit Titles act. The main points are that they recommend that no new crosslease and company titles be allowed, and that existing crossleases be required to phase out over 10 years.

The main points which seek to update the Unit Titles act and effect us are as below:

  • Clarify that a unit may be wholly or partly comprised of open space (this more clearly accommodates, a subdivide first and build later ecovillage development, or unit extensions within the unit envelope.
  • The allowance for differential BC levies, ie the possibility to depart from a strict unit entitlement basis.
  • The provision for varying the Unit entitlements at any time by the agreement of all parties, and a dispute resolution process for this.
  • The provision for stand alone buildings to be insured separately.
  • The provision for minor changes eg boundary adjustments to either common property or unit boundaries to not require a new unit plan.
  • The provision for unpaid levies to be passed to first mortgagees.
  • Scrapping the existing staged development provisions. This to be replaced with a simple balance lot approach. It is proposed that there would be no need to either predefine stage unit plans or to gain proprietors consent to make changes to such. The balance lot could be re-subdivided with a new unit plan at any time.
  • Clarifying that is allowable to establish a BC savings fund for long term maintenance.

Im pretty pleased about that bunch, and also understand that a further report is due out in Feb2000 which will seek submissions on a more radical extension to Unit Titles to bring the act into line with the Australian versions which can accomodate mixed uses and multilayered management. You can download this and future Lawcom reports from .

The Waitakere Eco-Neighbourhood Cohousing Project are at present coming up against institutional reticence in regard to their proposed on-site wastewater treatment and water collection. Sensing that it may be too big a fight to take on now, alone, they are looking to see if there are other parties who might also have some interest in collaberating on this one. If you are interested please check out, and also spread the word far and wide.

Robert Gilman et al ran some inspiring events recently, but i have been so busy I haven't even had time to look at my notes, never mind typing them up. I guess you had to be there any way! Some really good practical ideas came out of the EcoVillage workshop as well being very soul nourishing.

New Seasons and new milineum wishes to all,

Peter Scott :-)


Treating wastewater at Findhorn using aquatic plants.


 Site maintained by Peter Scott, last update 5.12.99