Book charts Maori architecture

Maori Architecture
7.5 Tane-nui-a-Rangi meeting house, Waipapa Marae, opened 1988. Designed by Ivan Mercep (Jasmax) and carved under the leadership of Pakaariki Harrison.
Maori Architecture
A new book by University of Auckland art and architectural historian Dr Deidre Brown charts the l

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A new book by University of Auckland art and architectural historian Dr Deidre Brown charts the little-known history of Maori architecture in this country.

A new book by University of Auckland art and architectural historian Dr Deidre Brown charts the little-known history of Maori architecture in this country.

Maori Architecture (Penguin Group NZ) explores for the first time the genesis and form of indigenous buildings. It assesses the vast array of Maori-designed structures and spaces — how they evolved over time, and how they tell the story of an ever-changing people.

The book, illustrated with more than 130 photographs and artworks, is a sweeping examination across many facets of Maori history and modernity, including early Polynesian settlement, the influence of Christian and western technology; the buildings of religio-political movements such as Ringatu, Parihaka and Ratana; post-war urban migration; and contemporary architecture.

Dr Brown, a Senior Lecturer at the School of Architecture and Planning at the University’s National Institute of Creative Arts and Industries (NICAI), says the book reflects nearly 20 years of personal and professional engagement with Maori architecture. She says the book aims to dispel false but widely-held notions of “traditional” Maori architecture.

“Maori architecture as a practice has persisted through challenging times, and contrary to expectation there is a great diversity of Maori architectural styles,” says Dr Brown. “However, urbanisation and legislation have largely removed the hammers from Maori hands, which mean Maori no longer have the ability to define or change their built environment. This has led to significant social and political consequences. History has shown that Maori architecture best meets Maori needs when there is significant Maori involvement.”

“This book represents a unique and distinctive contribution to our knowledge of Maori architecture and will quickly become a landmark reference point for researchers and others with an interest in this field. It is very exciting to have such a wide range of Maori architectural styles documented and drawn together in a publication such as this,” says Professor Jenny Dixon, Acting Dean of NICAI.

Dr Brown is of northern Ngapuhi, Ngati Kahu and Pakeha descent. Her previous books include Tai Tokerau Whakairo Rakau: Northland Maori Wood Carving (2003, winner of the Best First Book Award, Non-Fiction at the 2004 Montana New Zealand Book Awards), Introducing Maori Art (2005), Maori Arts of the Gods (2005) and Te Puna: Maori Art from Te Tai Tokerau Northland (2007, co-edited with Ngarino Ellis).

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National Institute of Creative Arts & Industries

15 Apr 2009

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