Te Kāhui Toi 3 Te Rau Karamu Marae, Massey University

  • Pou Auaha / Creative Director
    Te Kahui Toi
  • Ringatoi Matua / Design Director
    Te Kahui Toi
  • Ngā Kaimahi / Team Members
    Ngataiharuru Taepa, Kura Puke, Hemi Macgregor, Saffronn Te Ratana, Stuart Foster, Wi Taepa, Israel Birch, Robert Jahnke, Maihi Potaka, Te Kahui Toi whanau whanui
  • Kaitautoko / Contributors
    Te Matahiapō, Te Huirangi Waikerepuru, Mereiwa Broughton, Inahaa Waikerepuru, Te Ngaruru Wineera, Kurt Komene, Chaz Doherty, Rangi Mataamua, Kura Moeahu, Athfield Architects
  • Client
    Te Rau Karamu Marae, Puke Ahu, Massey University
Judge's comments:

A truly breathtaking take on what a marae can be. Flawlessly crafted with stunning detail and imagination.


Te Rau Karamu Marae opened on Massey University’s Pukeahu Campus in Te Whanganui-a-Tara, 27 March 2021.

The former Kuratini Marae (1986) closed in 2015 to create a place for a new marae. To commence, tohunga guided the process through engaging kawa and tikanga, and, to set a mauri within the land, to emit the living force of infinite potential.

The design of the wharenui ‘Te Whaioranga o Te Whaiao’ relates to a defined area within Te Waonui (the forest) and focused on the roles of atua such as Tāne Whakapiripiri and Hinewaonui in the creation of Te Rakau Tipua - the cosmic tree. This speaks of the connections to all things, which may be experienced by all of those who enter under its canopy and into its embrace, in ceremony guided by the spatial narrative.

Different aspects of the wharenui whakairo (artwork) speak to the roots (backwall), the trunk (ridgepole) the branches (rafters), to the crowning canopy of the tree (exterior kauru). Visually alive, both the physicality and the mauri of all aspects of the tree, its relationships to birds, insects, waters, fire, the sun, the moon, the stars, the cosmos in relationship to wāhine/tāne atua, bring us back to our sense of belonging, to confirm our integration, to connect us to our tupuna. This environmental schema is underpinned by the vertical pou-tokomanawa — its central kaupapa pertaining to Te Tiriti o Waitangi in achieving balance and prosperity for two peoples, their environment and their future generations.

The design of the east-facing wall featuring eight doors that open out onto Te Moananui courtyard creates a further dynamic threshold. When closed, the surrounding louvre windows bring light (often refracted) and warmth into a discrete space.

The wharekai ‘Te Whaioranga o Te Taiao’ speaks of a defined zone within Te Moananui (the great ocean) and focused to the roles of the atua such as Tangaroa and Hinemoana in connecting us to the land and also the sea. Careful attention to manaakitanga resulted in quality finishes, details, materials, pathfinding and ambience alongside a challenging refurbishment in a confined area.

The toi whakairo were created by Te Kāhui Toi, a team of artist-designers, supported by tohunga and tribal leaders, and guided by experts in their specialist knowledge. In terms of the architectural partnership and relationships with engineers and fabricators, the mutual respect for kaupapa, spatial and material aesthetics resulted in shared intentions, support and drive to pursue a resolved complex that reflects the highest values of mana and manaakitanga. The majestic maihi featuring glue-lamination techniques of native totara and requiring engineering problem-solving is a testament to these relationships.

The key innovation of the marae design and construction is that the intentions, processes, and expression remained strong and clear throughout this creation, from the beginning to completion, allowing the kawa to be confirmed through the opening ceremonies by Te Awa Tupua Whanganui and mana whenua.