Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
thesis_access.pdf (184.19 MB)

Common unity: reconnecting people with the environment through indigenous values and participatory design

Download (184.19 MB)
posted on 2021-12-09, 02:38 authored by Ese, Fetu

A significant problem for struggling communities in New Zealand is disconnection from the environment and a loss of cultural values. These issues cause disengagement and division between the people and the environment. Social stability gradually declines, leading to participation within one’s community being discouraged. Investigations into community engagement and the enhancement of the community environment suggest there has been a failure to address the current issues affecting struggling communities. Disconnect and disregard for Indigenous values in communities prove to be a defining factor in the relationship between people and the environment. Indigenous Māori incorporated Mātauranga (knowledge), Tikanga (customs) and Māori values in their way of life which proved instrumental in their development and sense of Kotahitanga (unity) between themselves and with the environment. This allowed Māori to become one with the land and for Whanaungatanga (sense of belonging) and Kaitiakitanga (guardianship of the land) to spread through the people. However, these values have been compromised and subsequently lost due to the European influence on the land and on Māori people. There needs to be a vigorous search for answers on how to reconnect people with these values so as to build strong and united communities.  This design research looks at ways of enhancing the struggling community of Takapūwāhia, Porirua, and the local iwi, Ngāti Toa. It seeks to address problems of disconnect, disengagement and loss of values between the environment and the people. This research aims to answer the research question ‘How can we unite a community by implementing Indigenous values when designing for people?’ The first step will be to undertake a literature review and evaluation of various case studies relevant to the research question. Then community engagement will take place so people can come together to evaluate existing problems and to enable the voice and vision of the people to influence the final design outcome. Effective methods of community engagement will be employed through Participatory and Consultative Design which will provide ways of communicating ideas and solutions.  Design experiments will be carried out on the identified problem degraded sites within the Takapūwāhia community. These will be presented back to the community with participation with other community members in the design process, contributing to community growth and identity.  With the key objective of the research being to unite the Takapūwāhia community, this will be achieved through their voice and their vision being integral to the design outcome, which will portray a story unique to the people of Ngāti Toa and to Takapūwāhia, exploring Māori symbolism essential to Ngāti Toa and integrating Māori values with Landscape Architecture. This will connect people to the design, this particular place and to the environment and help achieve the goal of the project of creating a sense of unity, ownership and belonging, of Kotahitanga, Whanaungatanga and Kaitiakitanga.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Landscape Architecture

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Landscape Architecture

Victoria University of Wellington Unit

University Library

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Alternative Language


Victoria University of Wellington School

Wellington School of Architecture


Rodgers, Maria; Marques, Bruno