COMMON Ltd 9 Paetutu

  • Pou Auaha / Creative Director
    Tobin Smith
  • Ringatoi Matua / Design Directors
    Tobin Smith, Daniel Sullivan, Kate Sullivan, Jessica Short
  • Ngā Kaimahi / Team Members
    Earl Hope-Pearson, Len Hetet

Paetutu is an affordable housing project that sought to reunite Whanau of the Taranaki Whanui with their historic land.

The location of this development, at the eastern end of Jackson Street - Petone, was once an Island and home to old Paetutu Kainga. The Island was later named “Gear Island” by Wellington’s settlers, and the Kainga moved to firm ground on the river’s right bank. Paetutu Kainga was not reserved out from the Crown Grant to the New Zealand Company in 1848, and so it was to disappear when the land transferred to private owners. For over 150 years Paetutu has been lying dormant, waiting to be awoken.

"Kei raro i te motu whāriki nei, he kōrero e oreore tonu ana (Underneath this earthen counterpane, still lurk the stories that have yet to be told)".

The redevelopment of Paetutu transpired after Taranaki Whanui were offered the former Housing New Zealand site as a surplus lot under its right of refusal as part of its Treaty of Waitangi Settlement. Taranaki Whanui approached The Wellington Company Limited, who in turn partnered with Te Tumu Kainga to deliver Paetutu under the premise of working with Iwi to support whanau into homeownership. A total of 14 whanau were provided the opportunity to purchase one of 56 new two and three bedroom homes in Paetutu at a discounted value, with the balance being made available to the market.

The development partnership worked closely with Taranaki Whanui in the cultural placemaking of the site, notably due to its relationship to the former Paetutu Kainga. This saw the reconnection of the site with its urban context via a pedestrian walkway to the river, which has been vested back to the community and tells the story of Marama and Rona via an embossed pathway and sculpture.

The artwork on the sign that faces Jackson Street represents Te Marama, which translates as the moon. The sand blasted pathway pattern represents He Whariki o Nga Whetu, translated as the mat of stars most commonly known as the Milky Way. Te Marama gifted the whariki to Rona, whom he fell in love with after taking her from earth when she cursed him for not allowing enough light for her to see when fetching water with her hue translated as calabashes. This is the final sculptural art piece, which represents the calabashes of Rona and how they grow on vines, which connect to He Whariki o Nga Whetu. The use of light represents the light of the moon and the light of the stars to uphold the mana of Paetutu as a place, forever lamenting the name of Paetutu back into the urban realm as a living contemporary Kainga.

The overall development is planned and articulated in a manner that provides a sense of individuality and physical land ownership to each dwelling. A muted material palette of thermally modified New Zealand Pine, embossed concrete and steel tray claddings speak to both the cultural and industrial narratives of the Petone community.