Focus on mātauranga Māori to increase with introduction of new architecture specialisation

From 2022, Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington’s Wellington School of Architecture will offer a new specialisation that allows students to focus more deeply on mātauranga Māori.

Te Herenga Waka marae
Te Herenga Waka marae

The Māori Design and Environments specialisation will be part of the University’s Bachelor of Architectural Science (BAS)

“Incorporating mātauranga Māori and design practices into our qualifications is of utmost importance,” says Professor Andre Brown from the Wellington School of Architecture. “This reflects our commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi and to meeting our industry’s expectations.

“The aim is that this new specialisation will further increase the visibility of Māori design knowledge and incorporate Tārai Kōrero Toi, a Māori design language, into the knowledge and practice of our graduates,” Professor Brown says.

The specialisation will include new courses designed specifically to fit this pathway, retain professional accreditation expectations, and provide a significant increase in the level of mātauranga Māori included in the BAS. The new courses will focus on mātauranga Māori and the built and natural environment.

“The specialisation will enable Māori and non-Māori students interested in completing their undergraduate degree with a particular focus on mātauranga Māori to have this more formally recognised,” Professor Brown says. “Māori students will be able to reflect on their own identity, mātauranga, and practice through these courses more concretely.”

This specialisation provides a clear opportunity for students to be part of a Māori-centred whānau within the school which privileges mātauranga Māori and Māori worldviews, Professor Brown says.

“We want the experience of our students at the University to be increasingly inclusive, place-based, and reflective of an understanding of Māori world views and practices.”

The Wellington School of Architecture also hopes to attract a wider pool of Māori staff to provide their expertise, both within the specialisation and within the wider teaching and research activities at the school.

“We envisage this specialisation will lead to an increased and solid expertise in the School around this kaupapa.”

The specialisation also aims to increase both internal collaboration and connections between Māori students and staff, as well as external collaboration with iwi, graduates, and other Māori organisations and communities.

“We hope to enable formal and productive cross disciplinary collaboration centred around mātauranga Māori,” Professor Brown says. “The intention is to link course assignments with projects of importance for iwi and Māori communities."