Ngati Hine Health Trust is among the largest Maori health providers in Aotearoa New Zealand, offering whanau ora services to the Ngati Hine region.
Our brief was to design a "whanau centre" on the lower level of Ngati Hine Health Trust's Torongare offices in Whangarei, in accordance with their vision of empowering whanau to find their voice, steady their footing, and enhance their well-being.
The narrative draws inspiration from the numerous mountains and hills of Ngati Hine, which symbolize resilience, vitality, and safety. As the indigenous people of the land, Maori have a profound attachment to the land and the surrounding ecosystem, which is both physical and spiritual and plays a crucial role in their wellbeing. The design of the whanau centre was inspired by the natural surroundings of the Ngati Hine rohe, including the maunga, the ngahere, the Taumarere river. Various elements of the centre, such as the colours, materials, form, and art, were chosen to reflect the connection between the environment and the people of Ngati Hine. This approach was intended to pay homage to the origins and stories of the Ngati Hine people.
The design of the space was carefully crafted to align with the client's values, with a layout that provides a calm and comfortable environment catered to the unique needs of whanau. Curved walls, screens, and flooring patterns were used to soften rooms and emulate the natural flows of the Taumarere, creating a welcoming and soothing atmosphere for visitors.
The Hui space was purposefully located to accommodate powhiri and was designed for hosting events and receiving distinguished guests. The outdoor foyer has a dedicated entrance to the space, which is accentuated with a custom designed ceiling system. The ceiling system uses a deep red colour that is inspired by the papa and reflects Ngati Hine's brand colour. The kaokao pattern is also used in the ceiling, which signifies strength and connects with various art pieces within the space.
A key factor to the success of this project has been the collaboration with local artists who have a deep understanding of the Ngati Hine rohe and its people has been a crucial element in the success of this project. By involving the artists from the beginning of the design process, the art and architecture were able to complement each other and convey a cohesive narrative throughout the space. This approach also allowed for a deeper understanding of the cultural significance and meaning behind the artwork, which could be further integrated into the design. Ultimately, this collaborative effort ensured that the cultural narrative was not an afterthought, but an integral part of the design from the outset.