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Contemporary Māori Architecture

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In Grant, E., Greenop, K., Refiti, A. L., & Glenn, D. J. (Eds.).The handbook of contemporary indigenous architecture. Springer., , 107-125

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Summary: Brown's chapter examines the evolution of Māori architecture following the pivotal moment of the Takaparawhau/Bastion Point occupation in 1978, marking a significant era in New Zealand's history where Māori activism received widespread national attention.

The occupation, a form of resistance against the government’s seizure of Indigenous lands, led to the eventual recognition and return of land to Ngāti Whātua, setting a precedent for future tribal settlements. This event catalysed a shift towards self-determined architecture and the development of ‘papakāinga’ (village) communities that embody Māori tūrangawaewae (a sense of belonging and connection to the land). The chapter highlights how post-1980s urban planning and architectural practices began to incorporate bicultural policies, aiming to foster Māori participation in decision-making processes and integrate Māori cultural elements into public buildings, with Wellington’s Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa cited as a prime example. However, despite these advancements, the struggle for Māori to access healthy and culturally responsive housing remains a significant challenge. Brown’s work critically examines the trajectory of Māori architecture from a response to civil rights movements to the embodiment of self-determination in building designs and community planning. It reflects on the complexities of integrating biculturalism within the architectural domain, acknowledging both its successes in public institutional projects and its limitations in addressing the broader housing needs of Māori communities. The chapter provides an insightful analysis of the transition from biculturalism to a more self-determined architectural approach, underscored by the ongoing need for Māori-led solutions in addressing housing crises. It also emphasises the importance of sustainable building practices and the re-invigoration of marae (Māori meeting grounds) as central to contemporary Māori identity and community resilience. By examining specific architectural projects and policies, Brown provides valuable insights into the potential of architecture to reflect and foster cultural identity, community cohesion, and environmental stewardship.

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