Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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posted on 2021-09-12, 22:28 authored by Tunui, Benjamin

Contemporary Māori architecture in Aotearoa is rapidly becoming ‘mainstreamed’ within a New Zealand architectural idiom. However, Māori architecture has been narrowed down to surface ornamentation, a handful of motifs and exhausted narratives. This dissonance is owing to the fact that Mātauranga Māori is not at the iho (core) of Māori architecture at a formal and spatial level. Consequently, this thesis aims to expand Māori architectural theory and practice by proposing that elements of tikanga Māori can be understood both formally and spatially in ways that generate new architectural possibilities. The research was conducted as an iterative design process. Three parts of the pōwhiri process are mapped for their underlying spatiality, both in the physical and meta-physical worlds. The ephemera are translated through a design methodology which reveals what these patterns could mean for contemporary Māori architecture. The three rituals: karanga, wero and hongi are explored as a series of design experiments which follow the same workflow. Each design experiment developed a range of different architectural techniques for expressing tikanga Māori. The use of speculative drawing/ mapping techniques is the principal way in which the spatiality of the ephemera is excavated and interrogated. The following research is not tied to an architectural site. The architecture is not based within a specific context, rather it is born of context, conceiving an architecture of the ephemeral and atmospheric qualities of ritual. This research acknowledges the Māori concept of tuakana-teina (elder sibling-younger sibling) knowledge exchange and draws a parallel with architectural design methodology. This thesis suggests a method of speculation for future generations of architectural designers in Aotearoa to build upon with their own whakaaro (thoughts).


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)

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Alternative Language


Alternative Title

Restoring Balance

Victoria University of Wellington School

Wellington School of Architecture


McDonald, Chris