Māori architecture professor collaborates with hapū in Te Rāwhiti to build papakāinga

By Te Ao - Māori News

Two hapū will have a Māori architecture professor collaborate with them to develop a papakāinga housing project on their land in the Bay of Islands.

Professor Anthony Hoete of Ngāti Awa, from Auckland University's School of Architecture, has worked all around the world and is putting his knowledge to work on Māori housing research.

He is now collaborating with Ngāti Kuta and Patukeha on a papakāinga (community Māori land) housing project in Te Rāwhiti, Bay of Islands.

Hoete says it is a tremendous opportunity to engage with the hapū and that building a whare tapere (house of entertainment) was the best choice for them because the papakāinga is on Māori title land with a slew of stockholders and land interests.

“Nonetheless, we're really fortunate that these two hapū came and spoke to us,” he says.

This possibility, according to Hoete, is critical for the University's School of Architecture as well as Māori housing, especially when he says there was once a time when there was little interest in Māori culture and Māori architecture was not an option.

“So what’s important today, certainly since I’ve been back, is that Te Ao Māori is centralised within the education system.”

“We've decided to put Māori content within the school and, of course, the papakāinga is a fantastic opportunity for students to engage with the tikanga and kaupapa around Māori, and also to engage.”

The papakāinga consists of three blocks with up to 200 owners, each of whom has 6000 whānau with a stake in the property. Therefore, it is pointless to develop separate home projects, says Hoete. Instead, it is better to build something to accommodate everyone.

“The model has to be less about centralised housing, more like a collection of bedrooms and dispersed functions like wharekai," he says. "So it’s kind of a reinvention of marae with greater density, so 30-40 bedrooms would be the norm.”