Matangireia Yates-Francis TŪHONONGA

  • Tauira / Student
    Matangireia Yates-Francis
  • Kaiako / Lecturer
    Amanda Yates
  • School
    AUT -School of Future Environments

Ka tau hā whakatau te Rangi e tu nei
Ka tau hā whakatau te Papa e takoto nei
Ka tau hā whakatau te mātuku mai Rarotonga
Tārewa tū ki te rangi
Whano, Whana, Haramai te Toki
Haumi e, Hui e, Taiki e!!!

"Whatungarongaro te tangata, toitū te whenua."
"As man disappears the land remains."

TŪHONONGA is a design-based research proposal exploring indigenous Māori narratives to help us understand how we can better co-occupy with more-than-human entities like maunga, wai, rangi and whenua. Designing a long-term vertical papakāinga that is themed with such notions is the objective of this research, while delving into how Te ao Māori practice explored through narratives can create architecture that highlights our surrounding environmental entities while also re-imaging how we can co-exist on earth between Ranginui and Papatūānuku.

TŪHONONGA outlines the complex issues facing architecture in Aotearoa. Referring to our living and built environments within the Anthropocene that is ever present, TŪHONONGA questions how we build communities by proposing co-occupancy with taiao as an answer. It presents a method for how one might consider spatially interacting with time, Ranginui, Papatūānuku and space. While doing so, this project excavates and translates traditional Māori narratives regarding the topic of co-occupancy and how exchanging and co-occupying space with the physical and spiritual realms comes hand in hand in Māori culture, proclaiming this way of living can constitute within new or reclaimed living environments in Te Arawa and Aotearoa.

With the focus of the thesis being on unravelling co-occupancy with our environment within architecture, there was freedom to dissociate pre-conceived design processes by forming a different way of viewing methodology rather than taking an approach that is influenced by the life cycle of materials and our environment. Although this couldn’t directly generate designs or architecture, it was evident that the customs of each method influenced the thought process and themes that inspired the drawings, diagramming, and decision-making throughout the research journey. The form of co-occupancy occurred differently in each part of the process.

The Living Pā is a product of the thesis research that provides a potential for architecture and taiao to hold a more cohesive future. The opportunity for repositioning the emphasis from buildings to environments reintroduces and improves communities through the connection to biodiversity and creating habitats for people and wildlife. As this research is grounded in Māori knowledge, it also offers Māori a way to reclaim and rethink our living environments and use of whenua, while being able to provide space that is authentically Māori, while having the mana to draw from both knowledge pools of Te Ao Pākehā and Te Ao Māori. TŪHONONGA can provide a potential process and The Living Pā can give iwi and hapū an alternative approach when considering housing whānau on their own whenua which is a clear common aspiration for many whānau, hapū, and iwi.

TŪHONONGA presents a new way of perceiving co-occupancy and what co-occupying space with wider ecology through the practice of architecture, grounded in Tikanga Māori at a physical, spatial and spiritual level may look like. Within the confines of Te Ao Māori, there is an abundance of customs that can set the precedence for co-occupancy and an example of how one might reconnect with nature and the natural ecosystem. TŪHONONGA brings forth the potential for community living through a spatial composition that is contemporary, yet grounded in the pursuit of co-occupancy with nature, traditional Māori narratives, and a thriving culture.