Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Tales to tell - Weaving Indigenous Narratives in Te Awarua-o-Porirua Harbour

Version 2 2023-09-25, 02:09
Version 1 2021-12-09, 06:38
posted on 2023-09-25, 02:09 authored by Leiataua, Baby

How does one design a contemporary Indigenous Pacific architecture? Can the structure of Indigenous narratives of multiple Pacific cultures reposition the space of contemporary architecture?  This thesis primarily drives Indigenous Pacific narratives as a catalyst for multicultural identity in a contemporary setting. Te Awarua-o-Porirua harbour presents environmental dysphoria due to cultural indifferences, poor harbour health, and disconnected harbour spaces contemplating a script for a resilient harbour.  In response, this thesis argues for a multi-cultural architecture speculating an intervention that converges Indigenous narratives of a diverse city — particularly Māori and Samoan to suggest a “harbour settlement” that reflects the harbour’s intrinsic socio-cultural and historical context.  This thesis develops a design that characterises Māori and Samoan cultural narratives by exploring the context of narrative creation — a series of exercises transcribing a repositioning of Indigenous ideals into narratives. In doing so, the study invests in translating Porirua’s most prominent Indigenous identities to their urban architecture.  In opposition of the current environment that fails to recognise Indigenous treasure — urban development that has failed to recognise iwi Ngāti Toa Rangatira as its kaitiaki (guardians) — this thesis contemplates an amphibious settlement to mediate a community-harbour relationship. The design aims to create a series of architectural segments termed ‘Ngā Kaitiaki e Whitu: The Seven Sentinels’ that take the form of a harbour settlement.  Indigenous Pacific narratives have frequently translated through architecture as an ornament or façade, offering an opportunity to capitalise on an alternative repositioning of Indigenous narratives as a framework to develop contemporary Indigenous spaces.  By introducing a new Indigenous harbour settlement, this study explores a spatial concept known as Va in Samoan or Wā in Māori — a concept of space interwoven throughout the fabric of the Pacific regions, proposing new criteria for Te Awarua-o-Porirua Harbour.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

CC BY-SA 4.0

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Architecture (Professional)

Victoria University of Wellington Unit

Va’aomanū Pasifika

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


Skinner, Robin; Thomas, Geoff