Maori Architecture

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

Those of you with sharp eyes, or even sharp ears, will have seen, or heard, of Deidre Brown’s new book Maori Architecture.

Brown has consistently been a productive writer on Maori art and architecture since the 1990s and this new work is, I think fair to say, a landmark achievement.

She elaborates on the thin-ish section of Maori architecture in Peter Shaw’s New Zealand Architecture in an extensive consideration of whare, Maori churches, iconic buildings such as:

Hakari stages, Te Hau ki Turanga, Rua Kenana’s Hiona (Maungapohatu), Ratana Temples, Maori churches (such as Rangiatea), Turongo (Turangawaewae), Futuna Chapel (Karori), and the Maori Battalion Memorial Centre (Palmerston North),  as well as more recent projects such as Thompson‘s Rata Vine development (Wiri), and Hoete’s Hackney Nursery School (London).

Brown’s work demonstrably illustrates the diversity, richness and innovative natures of Maori architecture, challenging the dominant and narrow image of Maori architecture as wharenui, encouraged by Apirana Ngata‘s “architecture renaissance.”


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Posted under: Heritage, HISTORY, News, Uncategorized | 7 Comments »

7 Responses to “Maori Architecture”

  1. maximus Says:

    When is it out? And where can i buy a copy – has it been released yet?

  2. t Says:

    yep, was out on May 4th I think. Hardcover going for $70. I got my copy in Welly from Unity, but I’m sure its everywhere now.

  3. m-d Says:

    Great images – are these taken from the book itself?

  4. c-m Says:

    no all the images are from web sites – just click on the image and you’ll go to the web site – but there is a similar range and all the buildings – except Miringa te Kakara (the last image) – are in the book.

  5. t Says:

    Having had a few days to digest it, I’m still in two minds about the book. Certainly worth having as the first accessible survey of Maori architecture, but I can’t help but thinking that the accessibility has meant some of the tougher issues aren’t covered.

    For example, there is no real engagement with the question of whether there is such a thing as ‘Maori’ architecture (as Rewi Thompson himself has questioned) – or is such a question passe nowadays? Also, its seems to take a relatively narrow view of what constitutes architecture, especially toward the end of the book – no tackling of the tricky issues such as how a history of land alienation fits in. And the final chapter on bicultural architecture is a bit twee for my liking.

    But I suppose Deidre Brown is right in that her book is just a start, and there are many other questions to be looked at/explored.

  6. m-d Says:

    I suspect a more thoroughly academic piece wouldn’t have suited the ‘market’…? Hence keeping it simple, and the ‘happy’ ending…

  7. c-m Says:

    Shamefully I’ve only just managed to find a weekend with time to read Deidre’s book. I agree it’s accessible and easy on the politics side of things. I was interested in the lengthly list in the introduction of what the book is not, and the distinction of aesthetics from representation. Are these roles of buildings so easily separable?

    I think you are right m-d – but I suspect t wouldn’t say that academia was the only place for engaging with the tougher issues. There have been controversial books that have been popular. I guess dealiing with the tougher issues would necessarily mean a bit of controversy.

    It is fantastic having this material more publicly available – but I also found that the book ameliorated architecture and context, as distinct from whether Maori architecture is passe. I also missed more mention of the architecture from Te Wai Pounamu …

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