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In the early days of the Te Kura Whare project, the whakataukī ‘Ka hanga whare te tangata, ka hanga tangata te whare’ was often heard. The message behind the whakataukī, signalled the life changing experience that the construction project would provide to the community in terms of collaboration, sharing of knowledge and of shared purpose.

The building now standing in Tāneatua, is more than its materials it is a reflection of a people, its attitude to nature and its place in the global community. The journey behind Te Kura Whare challenges us to strive beyond the impossible to see what can be. A journey that you accept will have its strains and challenges. 

shae douglas photo

Young Tūhoe Shae Douglas Reweti-Whitu (Ngāti Whare) says ever since he can remember he has spent much of his time drawing, colouring in and designing. But it wasn’t until a Year 10 social studies class on architecture that he really became interested in architecture. Besides the core NCEA subjects, Shae also took graphics, photography and physics.                                    

“I lived in Rūātoki when Te Kura Whare was being built. So driving past Te Kura Whare everyday had a big impact on me. I was in my final year when the construction was finished. I came along to the opening which later influenced one of my final Year 13 projects at school.”

Now in his second year of an Architecture degree at Victoria University, Shae says it is a huge field encompassing history, science, design, building science, landscape and interiors. In his first year of his degree he  got a taste of each area, then after that narrowed down his interest.  Shae is one of the recipients for the 2016 Tūhoe Education Contributions that will help him in his studies - Shae is only one of a few known Tūhoe who has taken up the challenge to learn about the design aspect of building, and is keen to see others get on board.

“I’m studying Building Architecture. There is no better feeling than seeing the final product of something you’ve designed. But Māori architecture is something that is hardly touched on... it’s important to remember your culture as it influences your ideas and work. If you're keen to get into it, be persistent.”

We have many a manuhiri who walk through the doors of Te Kura Whare.

Danielle Nga Paki-Koni (Ngāpuhi, Te Arawa) is in her final year studying towards a Masters in Architecture at the University of Auckland. Her passion is bi-cultural architecture and believes Te Kura Whare is leading the way in sustainable spaces for Aotearoa. “I’m really interested in how we represent Māori culture, tikanga and Te Ao Māori through a building...it can really make huge statements about our relationship with the land because it’s very literal and tangible. So that's where I’m going – how have we done it so far, and where we are going.”

Danielle Koni picture

Danielle heard about Te Kura Whare during her internship for Jasmax – the Architectural firm that helped design Te Kura Whare. After watching the film ‘Ever the Land’ three times last year, she said she had to make the journey down from Auckland to check out the building.

“The symbolism and metaphors in the building, the arch outside as the zenith of the sun, I think that is so interesting. That can be really meaningful to some people, and to other people they wouldn’t even notice. I think it matters that it means something to the people it belongs to.”

Danielle says that there’s a growing awareness and interest in Māori principles being incorporated through design and the built environment. 

“Māori concepts offer huge potential for innovation in the world of architecture and design, and these principles are being embraced not only by Māori, but by people from all cultural/social backgrounds which is awesome. It was also exciting to see Te Kura Whare on display at the Venice Biennale Future Islands exhibition, which showed off our diversity and importantly, Māori architecture’s integral role in shaping a distinctive New Zealand identity.”

Up in the office at Jasmax, Hangi Fridays and waiata are becoming the norm thanks to the Māori cultural advisory group. This group is made up of talented Māori architectural practitioners who are passionate about integrating tikana into their workplace habits.

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Among this bunch is Tūhoe Brendan Himona (Te Whānau Pani) who also says we need more ranatahi to become architects in order to help our people shape our environments for the betterment of Iwi in Aotearoa. Brendan and Rameka from the team advise that if you want to study architecture it is important to take maths and science as well as subjects in the creative areas of art, design, graphics, kapa haka.  He thinks working in the kitchen at the marae are great preparation for working as an architect too.

The footprint of Te Kura Whare extends beyond the boundaries of Tūhoe. It exists as a blueprint for living sustainably with our environment and a peoples effort to determine its own journey with the challenges it provides. 

 

 

 

 

What are your thoughts on Te Kura Whare?

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In the early days of the Te Kura Whare project, the whakataukī ‘Ka hanga whare te tangata, ka hanga tangata te whare’ was often heard. The message behind the whakataukī, signalled the life changing experience that the construction project would provide to the community in terms of collaboration, sharing of knowledge and of shared...

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Te Whare Kura Building Insights - Practical Facts

The Tūhoe project team members that managed the Te Kura Whare build project, offer up some of their insights learnt while working on Aotearoa's most sustainable building. The team is especially chuffed of the fact that the building  not connected to the utility network at all, which is handy at the end of the month as their is no power bill!

 

Water Supply

All potable (drinking water) and non-potable water use within the building will be sourced from rainwater collection off the roof. 2 x 25,000 litre concrete rainwater collection tanks are provided which store an estimated 30 days of water for the building. The potable water supply to the building is cleaned with filters and UV disinfection prior to reticulation within the building. Non potable water is provided to toilets.

There is a modest irrigation system for some landscape areas. This system is fed from the existing bore on site.

 

Fire Protection

The building has sprinklers fitted through out to protect it, life and the contents the sprinkler system is served by a dedicated above ground fire water tank. Water is sourced again from rainwater collection.

 

Storm water system

All storm water discharge is managed within the property boundary using engineer designed soakage holes. There is no run off onto adjacent properties. In addition provision is made within the landscape to capture excess storm water from major events and overflows; such as a 1 in 100yr storm.  The finished floor level of the building is elevated above the surrounding finished ground level (by 650mm) to avoid potential flood damage.

 

Wastewater treatment plant

All black water (waste water) from toilets and other sanitary fixtures is treated on site. There is a ’traditional’ septic processing tank for primary treatment, then effluent is held in a holding tank before being pumped to a passive wetland waste treatment system. This wetland is essentially bunded gravel beds, planted with appropriate flora through which the semi treated water flows and which removes nutrients and bacteria from the water. There will be no sewer connection to the Council utility system. This system has been approved by the Regional Council. 

The system comprises 4 main parts:

  • 2 x 22,500 litre Sceptic tanks complete with pump
  • First stage treatment – 2 No. sedimentation basins
  • Second stage treatment – wetland filter basin.
  • Dispersal of treated water via sub-terrain dispersal field

 

Maintenance and operational requirements will include; a manual changeover of the primary discharge pipe to alternate discharge into one of two sedimentation filter basins. This needs to be done every 10 days to two weeks. In the event of a large event, it is recommended that the primary discharge pipe is manually adjusted to enable discharge into both primary treatment tanks simultaneously. Wetlands require bi annual weeding and plant maintenance like any working landscape

A separate grease trap is provided to the kitchen waste outlet and this will need maintaining approximately once per month dependent on usage patterns.

 

Electricity

The building is designed to be very energy efficient and will generate its own power using a very large 580m2 roof mounted solar photovoltaic array to generate electricity. The power generated by the panels will feed into the main distribution board for the building.

The building is connected to the ‘grid’ (utility network). There is a feed out and a separate feed in meter to allow energy to be billed correctly. This means that when the solar power array on the roof is generating more power than is being consumed within the building, the excess electricity will be fed back into the power utility grid in the street. However, during winter months, when the roof mounted solar array cannot generate enough power for the demand within the building, the building will draw electricity from the street utility network.

It is anticipated that the amount of energy exported to the grid over the course of one year will equal the amount of energy needing to be imported. This is called “Net Zero Energy”.

A battery backup system is to be provided to maintain power to the Archival environmental control equipment during power outages. The key components of the system are;

  • Roof mounted solar (photovoltaic) panels
  • Solar (PV) distribution board and metering
  • Back up battery system

 

Hot water

To generate hot water, the building has a 15m2 flat plate solar collector on the roof which supplies and stores heat in a 1000litre hot water cylinder. Hot water is reticulated to the kitchen, showers and toilets. The solar collector system uses a simple ‘closed loop drain back’ technology which protects the collector and cylinder from overheating, frost damage and power failure. The backup hot water is provided by 4 x 5kw electric elements position at the top of the 1000litre cylinder.

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Te Kura Whare Insights

26 June 2014

Te Whare Kura Building Insights - Practical Facts The Tūhoe project team members that managed the Te Kura Whare build project, offer up some of their insights learnt while working on Aotearoa's most sustainable building. The team is especially chuffed of the fact that the building  not connected to the utility network at all, which...

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