Since the 1970s, Māori and Pacific buildings have significantly contributed to community connections through vā (spatial relationships) in Aotearoa New Zealand. Their fundamental characteristics embody collective representations of mana, of a group's “collective spiritual force” and ultimate values. During an over-2000-year migration into the Pacific, cosmologies, climatic and geopolitical environments, and ceremonies engendered ancestral house forms that are still in use. Yet, despite growing interest in Pacific architecture and culture, no substantial literature on this history and its future implications exists.Our proposed research is the first to engage a comprehensive Moana-nui (Pacific Ocean region) perspective and to identify and analyse principal elements in Pacific buildings that contribute to Tangata Whenua (Māori) and Tangata Moana (Pacific diaspora) peoples’ wellbeing. It investigates the persistence of Pacific iconic forms in contemporary architecture and the maintenance of relationships through reciprocal action, identification and long-term commitment to place. We will gather historical data and living testimony about the relationships of these buildings with their communities, how building experts (tufuga/tohunga) dealt with the reciprocal relationships between human habitat and the environment, and what architecture as citizenship in the 21st century, and in Aotearoa in particular, can learn from them regarding resilient community-building.
Principal investigators: Associate Professor Albert Refiti & Rau Hoskins.
Associate investigators: Professor Tina Engels-Schwarzpaul, Dr. Billie Lythberg, Professor Lilikala Kame'eleihiwa, Professor Jean-Daniel Devatine.