Te Puia win rewards community involvement

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Hawkins Construction was the main contractor involved in the redevelopment of the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute at Te Puia. The goal was to create a new Wananga Precinct for the national schools of wood carving, weaving and stone and bone carving.

Hawkins central region manager Peter McCawe said the firm worked closely with the client and consultants to ensure that Te Puia could operate smoothly throughout the construction programme.

“Winning the Urban Design and Architectural Merit Award and the overall Supreme Award is recognition of the project team’s hard work as well as the cultural contribution Te Puia makes to the region,” said McCawe.

One of the key issues was that Te Puia needed to remain open to visitors throughout the construction works. Added to the challenge of working on a live site were the logistics of working on the fringe of a gully, which drops away to boiling mud pools.

The build was undertaken in three stages. The first stage was the creation of pedestrian and vehicular access routes including a new access tunnel, pedestrian track and maintenance road.

The Wananga itself (Stage Two) is a new 1422 sqm building with extensive covered areas, walkways and verandahs. An internal suspended walkway allows for visitor viewing into the workshop areas.

The inclusion of a gantry crane allows the entire carving process to be undertaken within one building.

McCawe said the unique koru design of the building was completed in 170 curved precast panels. The installation of three carved pou (panels) creates a new entranceway for visitors. Each panel is seven metres tall and weighs more than 2300kg.

The final stage was the renovation and upgrade of the existing carving school to incorprate a new gallery space, ta moko (tattoo) studio, offices, staff room and visitor lounge.

Keynote judge Camden Cummings said Te Puia was one of the projects that had stood out to the judges.

“It was really exciting that they have taken this concept of Maori culture beyond just being on view to look at, and actually having teaching, so the community can go in and learn how to carve,” he said.

“It provides an opportunity for everyone to immerse themselves in Maori culture, which I thought was fantastic.

“The building was amazing and to have all these additional levels was what ended up winning the supreme award. That was the standout project for me.”

McCawe concluded: “The judges called it ‘a shining beacon for the people of Rotorua.’ We are very proud to have been part of creating this very special facility.”


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