Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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A Presence of Ariā - Within the Indigenous corporate body

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posted on 2021-12-07, 06:58 authored by Pepere, Raana

“Without consciously looking at them, we breath in our surroundings with all our senses.” - Christopher Day  Te Aō Māori revolves around a holistic world view and similarly, this paper too begins there. There is this opportunity here to understand that there is more to a space than just architectural form, especially an interior. These spaces encapsulate an atmosphere that is created by people, expressed through art; both visual and haptic.  Theoretical views that share this perspective all seem to converge at a point that describes these spaces through a more embodied outlook. A stronger appreciation is placed on the abilities of our suppressed bodily senses and the strength of presence in creating a spatial identity that places itself among our bodies memory.  Interior capacities that are full of atmosphere are like creative expressive mediums of simple translation between mind and body. Māori people convey this innate ability to shape space in a way that touches the skin with a presence and engraves a footprint memory in the mind. Embodiment is something recognized in Māoridom through this understanding of Te Aō Māori however it is missing from the interior spaces which Māori organizations are currently inhabiting in the corporate realm. This culture proudly structures itself around holistic values within a unique world of symbolism (Marsden, 1992, p12) and while being intricately informed by a cultural lense, this perspective isn’t conveyed within western dominated corporate building facilities (see appendix 01).  Māori organizations are now finding themselves climbing higher within an economic domain that is prevalent to Western corporations (Berl). This is creating a scenario where cultural symbolism and values, all that contributes to this cultural identity seems compromised. (Marsden, 2003, p24-25) One of the higher three indigenous entrepreneurial persons in the world, (Himona) Māori people are quietly succeeding with credit to culturally embedded values.  Within this context there is a varying degree of material that ranges from design and research approached through purposeful intentions, to understanding the body and space in this scenario through a cultural lense, and implementing this into a western corporate structure. This context is complex and so the path of this research paper too should respond in such a way, before a finalized outcome can be sought and produced.  Miromoda, the Indigenous Māori Fashion Apparel Board (IMFAB) is one example, of a non-profit organization that strives to raise the standards and awareness for those in the Māori Fashion industry. Without a permanent physical site, as Miromoda crew co-ordinate during their spare time, the identity of this Māori organization becomes prevalent only at events and gatherings. Challenging and questioning how the presence of their entities essence can be portrayed in such a situation and temporary context.  It is inadequate to continue efforts of Western corporate framework application into an indigenous domain that deserves more distinction. There is disconnection within this economic society that differs to that of Māori culture (Marsden, 2003, p125-126). Their value of capitalizing overrides any spiritual and cultural considerations because profit is end game. To understand what is being compromised, leads to comprehension that cultural identity shouldn’t be morphed for acceptance. There is a difference between applying superficial visual touches to a space to tick the correct boxes of acknowledgement than designing with more purposeful intent.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Interior Architecture

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Interior Architecture

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Alternative Language


Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


Kawiti, Derek