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Hihiaua Cultural Centre Stage I

NZIA Auckland Architecture Award 2020

NZIA New Zealand Architecture Award 2020

NZIA John Scott Award 2020

NZ Property Award Merit 2020

Silver Pin Best Awards 2021

The Hihiaua Cultural Centre is the first stage in a multistage development for the Hihiaua Cultural Centre Trust. The aims and objectives for the trust and the brief of the building is to raise awareness through education and exhibition of the arts and crafts of the local iwi of Whangarei and Northland. It aims to educate young Māori through the traditional crafts of carving, weaving as well as to exhibit the artefacts both produced and acquired.

The site is located on the Hihiaua Peninsula adjacent to the Hatea River in Whangarei. The site is part of the Hihiaua Park open space and adjacent to the context of the warehouses and industrial buildings on the peninsula.

The first phase incorporates the existing boatshed on the site and transforms it into the Whare Toi to house a range of activities in furthering the traditions and craft of the Māori carving and weaving amongst other activities. A new mezzanine added to include kitchen facilities and meeting space. A laboratory space is on the ground floor. A display area allows for the display and sale of smaller items produced by the workshop. A raised floor accommodates members of the public and visiting groups to see the activities without interfering with the carving and cutting areas of the workshop.

The Whare Waka sits alongside the Whare Toi, a new building to house, protect and display the collection of Waka within a building that is roofed but has open sides so that waka are able to be viewed at any time through slatted timber screens. The Whare Waka incorporates a gantry to facilitate the launching of waka directly into the adjacent river.

A canopy walkway deck connects the two buildings together and provides a generous sheltered space for a range of activities and engaging with the wider public as well as the buildings occupants. This raised deck flows into the Whare Toi to create a seamless transition between inside and out. Slatted screens allow for the control of sun and shade as well as privacy for events.

The project uses a mix of raw and finished materials to respect the existing boatshed, allow for new activities as well as relating to the rural and industrial buildings of New Zealand. The building is purposely left unfinished in some areas to reflect its heritage and history as well as its ongoing use as a working building.