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Te Papa museum architect dies
9 April 2014

The Pakeha architect who worked on designs for Te Papa, the Museum of New Zealand, has died. Ivan Mercep was 84.

The ceremony to officially open the Tuhoe headquarters in the Bay of Plenty.

The ceremony to officially open the Tuhoe headquarters in the Bay of Plenty.

Photo: RNZ / Rosemary Rangitauira

Mr Mercep was described by his peers as the quiet achiever of New Zealand architecture.

In 2008, he was the recipient of the New Zealand Institute of Architect's Gold Medal in recognition of his 50 years' service to the industry.

He was the lead designer of the recently opened Tuhoe building Te Wharehou o Tuhoe, where he developed a great rapport with the local iwi.

Colleague Rau Hoskins said Mr Mercep was one of the few Pakeha architects in the 1970s who made an effort to understand Maori and Pacific cultures and what they wanted to achieve with their designs.

He was a humble and sensitive man who was more of a listener rather than a talker, Mr Hoskins said.

Tuhoe leader Tamati Kruger said the tribe had known Mr Mercep for about three or four years as they sat together and designed what would be his last building.

Mr Mercep's Yugoslav heritage meant he was able to relate to what the iwi wanted to achieve with Te Wharehou o Tuhoe, Mr Kruger said.

Mr Mercep's wisdom, past experience dealing with Maori clients and practical approach to architecture stood out when Ngai Tuhoe chose him to design their building, and Te Wharehou o Tuhoe was full of his little quirks.

The tribe picked Mr Mercep's company, Jasmax, from about 80 firms who pitched to design their building.

Mr Mercep, the father of Radio New Zealand presenter Simon Mercep, also helped design Hoani Waititi Marae in West Auckland and and Waipapa Marae at Auckland University.

His architectural legacy also includes:

  • Fale Pasifika, University of Auckland
  • University of Auckland Arts and Commerce Building
  • Mangere Pool and Leisure Centre
  • University of Auckland Recreation Centre
  • University of Auckland Maori Studies and Marae
  • International House, University Hall of Residence
  • Rarotongan Hotel, Cook Islands
  • Samoa House, Karangahape Rd
  • Cathedral Church, Glendowie
  • Waikato Museum of Art and History, Hamilton
  • Te Tuhi The Mark, Art Gallery and Community Centre, Manukau
  • Potters Wheel Pub, New Lynn

Read the original RadioNZ article here.

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