Living for tomorrow, today...

Waiheke Earthship gains Resource Consent

Resource Consent Granted – Building Consent next to come!

This is an update as to where the Waiheke ES project is currently at along with a proposal to which we invite your thoughts and comment.

The first hurdle of the consent process has been overcome with the granting of resource consent for the Waiheke Earthship by Auckland Council.  The resource consent covers such things as the size, bulk  and look of the building, earthworks, impacts on native trees, and wastewater treatment and disposal,  and was accepted as the building is low impact design and rain water collection and on-site sewage treatment as is the norm on Waiheke. 

 The Building Consent application process is yet to come and we are about 75% of the way to having a set of plans to present to Auckland Council. No construction start date has been rescheduled as yet.

To date the Earthship design process overall has been laborious, slow and costly as a result from the dynamics and complications of trying to work with Earthship Biotecture (EB) in the USA and attempting to bring Mike Reynolds design into a format which meets NZ engineering and consent requirements.  To date it just not turned out to be a workable pathway to create a cost-effective outcome so with the agreement of EB, we are now adopting a different approach which we think will be easier to manage and be more cost effective. Having got the plans and engineering to an advanced concept design stage we will now take charge of the design and compliance process from EB and finish off the detailed design of the Waiheke Earthship with our local NZ team under the guidance of architect Graeme North and present the finished product to EB for review (rather than have Mike Reynolds of EB lead the project as head architect).  We are in conversation with the Coromandel Earthship folks (Gus & Sarah) who are embarking on designing an earthship near Tariua, Coromandel and we’re both looking at working with the same team of design professionals.

We have had conversations with many individuals and groups nationwide who are keen to see a consentable NZ approved version of the generic EB Global Model Earthship accessible to their communities. We envision this could be made possible  in conjunction with the earthship design process that we are going through.  In addition to our own custom earthship design we are looking at  providing a set of earthship system NZ  generic “specifications” which could be applied to any site in NZ including an NZ approved tyre code, wastewater systems design, water proofing, ventilation and other key components of earthship design. It is important to note that these would not be a a set of building plans which could be presented for rubber stamping by councils as NZ law requires that site specific drawings are created for every building consent.  It would however save anyone embarking on their own earthship design considerable cost and time as all the key NZ code compliant details could just be lifted and applied.  By pooling resources with any others of you out there that are looking to build earthships in the future, or just want to support the movement, we have an opportunity to really empower the expansion of earthship  building in NZ.

 In order to gauge and confirm interest and also have a transparent mechanism to manage the process, we are looking into a crowd funding method called Kickstarter to raise the money to provide the generic set of code compliant NZ earthship specifications.  As we have already resolved many of the core aspects of the compliance requirements with our considerable investment to date with Earthship Biotecture and NZ architect and engineers,  we envision that it will be quite cost effective for others to chip in to achieve a full set of generic earthship specifications for themselves.

At the end of the day, whether or not there is sufficient interest, we will carry on and complete our site specific plans for the Waiheke ES project (as we imagine will others) however we feel it is much more efficient and better for all stakeholders to work collaboratively to achieve an outcome with much greater and wider benefits for the NZ Earthship community.

So what do you say – does the idea sound attractive and would you contribute to making it work?  If not why and how could this idea be improved?

Thanks and we look forward to your comments.

Liz and Dana




windship storm shelter – Batug, Phillipines



Batug is beautiful. Barug is green and tropical. Batug needs help. When the typhoon Yulanda ripped through the Phillipines  late last year everything changed. Hearing the stories from those sheltering in the school rooms (the largest building in the village) when the roof was torn off is heart wrenching. I joined the Earthship Biotecture build there earlier this month, aiming to make a difference to the lives of severely effected.

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 Earthship Biotecture is just one of the many organisations trying to bring much needed aid to rural typhoon destroyed Philippines. We worked with an organisation the ground, called Earth Village, to create a structure that is typhoon proof. A design was made for a simple dwelling, with the intention on easy replication, but then the request came for a storm shelter that could also be used as school rooms.  So that was our mission. The 10 day build took place Feb 23rd to 4th March with 7 EB crew including Michael Reynolds, 50 interns and about 15 dedicated locals who trained with us.


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We built a new structure designed by Mike Reynolds termed the ‘windship’, which is one U of tyres (with steel vault), facing the same structure, accross a courtyard which is partly covered. This includes 4  smaller vaults that were made for the showers and toilets in the courtyard, and which will be installed along with the grey water cells and the solar panels on the next phase of the building. The structure catches water off the roof, is burmed for thermal mass but also to direct the wind up and over the building. Tyres, cans, glass and plastic bottles were all used in this building, along with steel and cement, 2 water cistern, 2 concrete cooling tubes, bamboo, local coco lumber and corrugated plastic. 




It was hot and humid, living in tent city but we were spoiled with delicious food and fresh coconuts. The locals thanked us so many times for our help, but in truth I think the changed they made in the lives of us who ventured there was more of a gift. I feel humbled and inspired by the way they can pick up and carry on, with hope and a smile and more generosity than you can imagine. And having so little and working so hard. Thank you Batug, Earthship Biotecture, Earth Village and all those participating this is amazing project.

Here is the link to a great 5 min docco out already about the build, done by Mark Jaramillo (for Earthship Biotecture) and here is the link to the facebook group with posts and photos of the build.


ros5 Any questions or comments please email

Earthship Ironbank

 EARTHSHIP IRONBANK – building a permitted simple survival model Earthship in the Adelaide hills.


Earthship Ironbank is the work of Martin Freney  - designer and Earthship enthusiast – in the Adelaide hills,  South Australia. Martin started the tyre work for Earthship Ironbank in 2009 when Michael Reynolds was in town for seminars, and the idea grew to design and permit a simple survival style one bedroom Earthship. Martin works for the university of South Australia as an industrial designer, and so did the design and drafting himself, and took it to a private certifier and engineer before going to council to get it approved. By mid 2013 he had the go ahead and building started Jan 6th 2014, with a 5 week workshop consisting of 25 interns and 10 crew.

 The Adalaide hills gave us everything from 2 day down pours to 45 degree scorchers and bush fire evacuations. The building gave us easy times (wonderful clay onsite for cob) and difficult times (especially the concrete form work without cans and excessive steel requests from engineers). The food was unreal, the people enthusiastic and passionate, and the community formed will never be forgotten. Number of people changed by this event – everyone. 












Martin Freney (owner) right, Rosa Henderson (crew) left

rosa6Bottle bricks going in on the East/west partition wall under the vault

rosaBuilding the east and west vaults for the entry and bathroom

This building will be a B&B when completed, to give people a chance to really experience living in an Earthship. Martin is also doing his extended Phd work here, having numerous temperature sensors in around and through this building, measuring inside and outside temperatures throughout the year and charting how the temperatures stabilise inside the building. Work will continue on this building in April with a 2 week natural finishes workshop.

More info at

To request a summery of the build details (materials, design, permitting, internship) or questions or comments please email

Rosa Henderson

Earthship Tokaanu

Liz & Dana with Mike Isherwood at the Tokaanu Earthship project site. Was great to catch up with Mike and to see his project after last seeing him at the seminars at Massey Uni last year. He’s made great progress and has a magnificent site that he is committed to being an ever expanding example of Earthship technology in action. We look forward to sharing our learnings and works to date with he, Lisa and the Ngati Tuwharetoa community.
Watch this space!
Liz & Dana with Mike Isherwood at the Tokaanu Earthship project site. Was great to catch up with Mike and to see his project after last seeing him at the seminars at Massey Uni last year. He's made great progress and has a magnificent site that he is committed to being an ever expanding example of Earthship technology in action. We look forward to sharing our learnings and works to date with he, Lisa and the Ngati Tuwharetoa community.

the golden dome – Miniship finishes on the temple

3 weeks work on the miniship in North Canterbury has just finished, leaving our beautiful golden domed temple very nearly finished.  We did final plaster on the roof, followerd by sealing and coloring the dome. Water catchment was built, plastered and sealed with a slope for water to run to the scupper (built from rebar and plastered) to bring the water direct to the barrel. The exterior walls too alot to pack out with cans, before getting to planster, and will get a green sealer to complete the outside.

Inside, the walls were given numerous plaster coats of cob (clay soil, sand, straw or wheat paste and slaked lime) to pack out the tyres and sculpt around the window and door. Inside the ceiling, the fabric was removed, and a lime wash was painted on in 2 coats. Outside, we built a seat and a planter, and we also installed a beautiful wee fire.

Big thank you to everyone involved, final final finishes (interior plaster, floor and tile) will happen in spring.

A full set of images and a video walk through are here at Earthship New Zealand (on fb) and anyone is welcome to contact me with questions or requests.


Malawi Community Centre 2013

“The Malawi flower has happened. Three rooms, two toilets, and a shower are built.
We want to thank the local people of Kapita who made all of us feel at home while we worked with them.
We want to thank the student soldiers who helped to both finance and build this project.
We want to thank Empower Malawi for facilitating the initial beginnings of this project.
We want to thank the many who donated and are still donating funds toward this project.
We want to thank the Earthship crew for another amazing performance.
We all became an Earthship family of seventy working toward a single goal for that two weeks.
The project ended with a full moon and full hearts.

Earthship Biotecture plans to provide them with the funds to purchase materials over the next few months.
Our goal for this will be $60,000 that we will provide for them in three $20,000 hits.
We invite everyone to continue helping to fund this project until this goal is met.”  Michael Reynolds



Malawi was one of the most beautiful and significant experiences of my life; remote Africa, amazing generosity, rich culture, simple living conditions, heat, light, hard work and amazing people. I defiantly recommend an internship, especially not-for-profit work. Any questions or comment please get in touch with me at

Click here to donate, and to see the 20 docco of the build.

HERE is the awesome time lapse of the build!

FULL set of 5 pages of professional images from the Kpaita malawi build here!

here is the facebook group (if you are on fb) where interns and crew are posting their experiences and photos.

DSC_7488 DSC_7494 DSC_7545 DSC_7512DSC_7460malawi 

Upcoming training and volunteering opportunities

rosa1See our training and volunteering page for upcoming opportunities to work on earthship projects in Raglan (29 Nov to 2nd Dec) and Canterbury (Dec 1- 24th).

Also  there is a chance to be an intern from 6 Jan to 8 Feb in South Australia on the first Australian Earthship to be “sanctioned” by Earthship Biotecture (Taos, USA) and the first to be fully approved by local government in Aus!  Click here for more info.

Waiheke Earthship Update

Waiheke Earthship - North Elevation

The Waiheke earthship planned build date of Feb 2014 has been pushed out as constuction drawings by Mike Reynolds have taken a lot longer than anticipated and are still in progress.  Once plans from Earthship Biotecture have been completed they will need further work by NZ architect Graeme North to get them into a format to meet NZ building consent requirements, and then there is the consent process itself to go through.  Summer’s the time for building an earthship so if the consent isn’t in place in time for a build this summer then it will take place towards the end of 2014.  We’re  hoping that the extra time it’s taking to get suitable construction details drawn up will help the plans sail through Council, who so far have been positive about the consenting process.

Waiheke Earthship Update

NS sectionPlanning for the Waiheke earthship is well underway with Mike Renolds and NZ architect Graeme North. We are most grateful for the help of planner friend Kristen McGavock with our resource consent application – about to be lodged soon.  Part of the consent application includes the set up of a temporary campsite for interns and volunteers just down the road a little from our build site.  The Awaawaroa Bay Ecovillage are kindly allowing us to use part of their top paddock for the campsite and we met with Rob from the ecovillage thismorning to plan the layout.  So things are moving along nicely but we still have a ways to go before construction drawings are complete and we are ready to submit the building consent application.  We hope that by the end of October we will be in a position to assess the proposed timeline for the build so watch this space for updates on intern recuitment.