Samuel Dunstall – Ngāti Tūwharetoa Mātai Mana Motuhake

  • Tauira / Student
    Samuel Dunstall – Ngāti Tūwharetoa
  • Kaiako / Lecturers
    Georgina Stokes – Ngāi Tahu, Jen Archer-Martin – Ngāpuhi, Stuart Foster

Nō Te Arawa ōku tīpuna,
I whā mai au i Tāmaki Makaurau,
I tupu ake au i Taupō-Nui-a-Tia,
Ko Tongariro te maunga e karanga mai ana,
Ko Waikato te awa e tārere mai ana,
Kei Te Whanganui-a-Tara ahau e noho ana.

The site I am designing for is not my tūrangawaewae, but it is the ground upon which I walk, kōrero, eat, learn and grow. As an urban Māori in this place, I am constantly seeking ways to connect to the land beneath by feet, and to the same Papatūānuku of my ancestral lands.

On a marae, processes of pōwhiri (welcome), karakia (incantation), and wānanga (discourse) facilitate the making-tangible of these connections between people, place, and spirit. Waiata, pātere and haka (songs, chants and dance) breathe energy and emotion into these spaces of relation and transmit stories and knowledge, as do the toi (arts) of the wharenui, such as whakairo (carving) and tukutuku (ornamental latticework).

This project responds to a pānui (call) to design a whare waiata – a house for the learning of song. In particular, it invites an in-depth consideration of the relationships between materials, narrative, people and place. The design response is inspired by the pātere gifted for this place, through which we journey through the significant sites of the local landscape, invoking each by name. Fundamental to the project is the understanding that in order to truly connect to these sites, we must understand our own place and connection.

A temporary pavilion constructed of reclaimed timbers and cardboard sourced from local waste streams, Mātai Mana Motuhake invites learners of the pātere to investigate, study, and explore one’s own positionality, identity and autonomy. It offers a grounding-place in which to spend time reflecting on ideas of tūrangawaewae and mana motuhake, and to understand ones’ own place.

With care for Papatūānuku comes the realisation that all material cycles are implicated in the health of the land and its people. The pavilion is therefore designed for disassembly, with materials re-used or returned to the earth. Cardboard is explored as the main mediator of the experience, manipulated to elicit different material qualities and facilitate various activities. Comprised of reconstituted wood fibres, cardboard speaks of utility and recyclability. Its unassuming aura of informality readily engages people in processes of making.

Cardboard tukutuku designs cover the rear wall of the whare – a backdrop to the process of welcoming learners into the space through pōwhiri, containing stories and connections that can be unlocked through kōrero. Dappled light filters through thousands of corrugated apertures in the overhead ceiling panels, activating the wairua of the space as karakia opens the experience. Learners then engage in discourse and the making of 3D topographic landforms using reconstituted cardboard, adorning the walls with finger-print-like tiles that sing of their own tūrangawaewae and mana.

Mauri ora.