Te Rau Karamu Marae Landscape

  • landscape architecture

Massey University Te Kunenga ki Purehuroa

Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington


Resene New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architecture Awards, Winner - Award of Excellence (Institutional and Commercial), 2022

Studio Pacific were commissioned to design the soft landscape for Massey University’s new marae on their Pukeahu, Wellington campus.

The design brief required a landscape that reinforced kaupapa, tikanga and mātauranga Māori and which was:  

  • Protective, providing pathways that ensure cultural safety  
  • A sanctuary or retreat for guests – particularly the inner courtyard/ atea Ngā Kuratinitini o Te Ao  
  • A learning space – for example, including rongoa plant species and a grassed area for learning about the night sky, the signs from the wind, clouds, birds and insects, and the interconnections between them  
  • A variety of spaces and planting habitats – for example te ngahere and te takutai

Te Rau Karamu Marae, designed by Athfield Architects, is a space where students can be physically and emotionally immersed in te ao Māori as an integral aspect of their learning. The marae is a distinctive world-class piece of art, the result of a highly successful collective and collaborative approach working with mana whenua, and which places kaupapa, tikanga and mātauranga Māori at the heart of the campus.  

The marae consists primarily of the wharenui, Te Whaioranga o Te Whaiao, the wharekai, Te Whaioranga o Te Taiao, and in the connecting landscape, Te Rau Karamu atea and Nga Kuratinitini o Te Ao (west atea). The toi whakairo were created by Te Kāhui Toi, a team of artists/designers, supported by tohunga and tribal leaders, and guided by experts in their specialist knowledge.  

The Marae is centralised within the planted scheme, encapsulating the vital connections of people to the flora, fauna and the wider environment. ‘Te Ngahere’ infers the collective: trees, plants, herbs, seeds, flowers, fruits, insects, birds and people. Iconic native plants, and their placement foster an ecosystem conducive to health and wellbeing, social, and cultural-based learning.  For mana whenua, the restoration of endemic flora and fauna to the Pukeahu ecosystem are as important as the built environment, providing further space for the return of the interconnections of the natural layering of plant species, of manu, and of insects. As these plants grow and flourish, so too will the people who pass through this space.  

The success of the project has come from the collaboration of many. Te Rau Karamu Marae Landscape was designed by Te Kāhui Toi, Athfield Architects and Studio Pacific Architecture with specialist planting input by Bart Cox and Terese McLeod.

Resene New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architecture Awards, Winner - Award of Excellence (Institutional and Commercial), 2022