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Aotearoa New Zealand has a rich history of pre-colonial architectural design embedded in Indigenous Māori knowledge — a unique oceanic cultural spatial sensibility. Whenua (land) activates a metaphysical exchange between people, ocean, and atmosphere to grow the spatial sensibility into an intangible interconnected blueprint for design.
Despite possessing a vast body of environment-specific knowledge embedded in centuries of experience, the dynamic spirit of existing Māori architecture stands in sharp contrast to the hermetic design systems brought ashore during the nineteenth-century British colonisation of Aotearoa that inhibited further development of our Māori spatial kaupapa (approach).
How can Aotearoa designers uphold the mana (prestige) of Māori cultural spatial sensibilities when designing within the dominant Pākēha (New Zealand European) industry today?
This visual essay has been created from the perspective of a Māori spatial designer. It foregrounds the need for all Aotearoa designers to honour the philosophical spatial mātauranga (knowledge) crafted by our tīpuna (ancestors). We have a responsibility to breathe life into these skills so our tamariki (children) can thrive in spatial environments without Indigenous erasure.
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