New series charts grand designs, Maori style

It’s been more than 25 years since a Kiwi architecture series last appeared on our screens. The Elegant Shed was the name of that series. Making its debut in 1984, the six part documentary series looked at NZ architecture since 1945 (you can check out old episodes HERE). But televisions series such as British Grand Designs have reignited an interest in architectural programmes, says Architect Rau Hoskins (Nga Puhi), who is fronting a new 13 episode series all about Maori architecture. 

A graduate of Auckland University with a Masters of Architecture, Hoskins is the owner and director of architectural practice Design Tribe Limited, which specialises in translating the needs and aspirations of Mãori communities within the built environment. He also lectures part time at Unitec in Maori architecture. 

In the new televisions series, Hoskins will guide viewers on a journey around the country exploring the rich history of Maori architecture. The series spans from Kaitia to Bluff and will touch on architecture in all forms, including religion, education and tourism.

“It’s about celebrating what is happening now and what has happened in the last 140 years,” says Hoskins. 

The series is thematically based, and areas explored include the notion of the village in the modern and historical context; architecture driven by, or named after women; the work of architect John Scott, famed for his buildings that incorporated cultural Maori elements; and future directions for Maori architecture, including sites still under construction. 

The oldest property to be examined, says Hoskins, is an 1840 meeting house in Te Papa museum called Te Hau Ki Turanga. 

“I was pleasantly surprised by the diverse amounts of Maori architecture. There were some places I’d never even heard of,” says Hoskins. 

The series has an impressive production lineup, including Qantas Media Award winning producer Megan Douglas of Scottie Productions, director and co-producer Karen Mackenzie and writer and director Michael Bennett. 

Mackenzie says that when she thinks of iconic New Zealand buildings, it’s not the Sky Tower, the Beehive or the latest designer Remuera mansion that moves her. 

“Instead it’s the lone Ratana Church perched on a hill in Raetihi with its distinctive red domes, it’s the unique Hiona temple seen in Vincent Ward’s Rain of the Children, it’s Lyonel Grant’s brand new wharenui at UNITEC and the many marae thoughout the country nestled into the landscape with their own unique history.” 

Whare Maori makes its debut 8 May at 8pm on Maori TV. 

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