WSP Architecture 3 Te Puka O Te Waka, Rakiura Museum

Public and Institutional Spaces 2021 Credits
  • Design Director
    Julian O'Sullivan
  • Team Member
    Ian Sutherland
  • Contributor
    Raja Hidzir
  • Client
    Rakiura Heritage Trust

Born out of necessity to provide a new purpose built facility to re-house the islands’ museum exhibition, the project began its incubation almost 10 years ago. As the first piece of civic infrastructure constructed on the Island in over 25 years, the project developed a rich narrative supported by its strong connection with the ocean, maritime history, local iwi, community and environment.
The final design, inspired by the wedge-shaped site, reflects the wedge shape of the harbour, and the shape of many ships that have formed part of Rakiura’s history. This narrative of the building being a ship, or a vessel, is reflected in the purpose of the project itself – to contain and to house treasure, and powerful objects of mana. Further linking the building to the island’s history are the ‘ribs’ running down the side of the museum, their size and style indicative of a whale’s ribs acknowledging the local whaling history.
The floating prow of Te Puka O Te Waka provides a striking addition to the streetscape, whilst immersed unobtrusively in the heart of the Rakiura community.