Settlements in northern Tairora are generally closer together and more nucleated than in the south, where they tend to be hamlet clusters about a half day's walk apart. Most settlements are found at elevations between 1,500 and 1,900 meters, and typically they each had 200-250 residents until Recent population surges. Traditionally, wherever allowed by the terrain, ridge-top locations were preferred for defensive purposes; also for defense, except for a few groups living in the open grasslands of the north, settlements were surrounded with high palisades. In an arrangement used until the 1960s in the north, and still used in much of the south, Tairora settlements focused on one or more large, separately palisaded men's houses, with women's houses clustered below (where slope permitted) and with seclusion houses—used by women during menstruation and childbirth and sometimes for sanctuary—separated from living areas and usually surrounded by their own fences. The traditional style for all houses is circular, with low grass and timber walls and conical thatched roofs, windowless and tightly insulated against the night cold. Increasingly nowadays, Tairora have adopted rectangular house styles with walls of woven bamboo.