He pounamu, he pounamu: Revisioning DOC huts through Māori methodologies
Despite New Zealand’s perceived close affiliation with the indigenous culture, there is a significant scarcity of Māori architecture in Aotearoa, particularly regarding rural entities. The signified notion of land is particularly prevalent in Māori culture with the tanagata whenua- (the people of the land) drawing upon natural resources to inform a way of living and instilling legends that serve as a catalyst for a rich culture. Despite cultural infusion of western ways through colonisation and urbanisation, Māori kindship with nature remains at the forefront of cultural identity.
Additionally, Aotearoa’s natural landscape is consequently an important economic resource for Māori tourism operations. Although academic literature and tourism demand supports learning about Māori methodology, there is an apparent limited focus on the architectural involvement in the tourism sector.
In conjunction with Māori symbiotic relationship to the land and tourism demand, this thesis proposition explores New Zealand DOC huts, with the intention to sustainably reconstruct the stereotypical hut and infuse underlying architectural conceptions related to Māori principles, using the distinctive territories of iwi to serve as precedent for the design.
With over 950 huts acknowledged through DOC management the scope of the project is intended to be refined to the Ngāi Tahu tribe territories, which include renowned walking tracks, such as Arthurs pass and Fiordland national park. The methods deployed will focus heavily on participatory interactions with the iwi, infused with narrative and decolonial methodologies to ensure a respected and validated body of work.
This research aims to unearth Māori connection to the land and highlight the need for a concerted effort to build informative architectural expression in accordance with Māori ideologies in the back country of Aotearoa.