Jasmine Hemi

Architectural Graduate Practicing
Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Toanga


Ko Ngāti Kuia, ko Ngāti Apa ki te Ra Tō, ko Rangitāne o Wairau ōku iwi. Ko Tutumapou tōku maunga. Ko Te Hora tōku marae. Ko Te Hoiere tōku awa. Ko Te Hoiere te waka. Ko Kaikaiawaro tōku kaitiaki. Ko Matua Houtere tōku tīpuna. Ko Jasmine tōku ingoa

Project Title
Taonga o te Whenua
In Aotearoa (New Zealand), there is a common Māori narrative of loss of culture, knowledge and land, causing generations of indigenous dysphoria, as a result of colonisation. This process diminished one of the fundamental and important parts of this culture—their architecture. Though the Western world admired the “exoticness” of these structures, it was also the governing infrastructure that aimed to undermine all Māori building typologies and ways of living. The contemporary buildings of Aotearoa reflects a primarily Westernised world, lacking any acknowledgement of the pre-colonial architecture that was shaped by the whenua (land and its natural resources). Responding to this context, this thesis aimed to explore how the combined application of customary Māori building materials and techniques can have a decolonising and restorative influence within modern-day architecture. Using the methodologies of research, fabrication and translation, this thesis developed a whenua-based design palette. This process investigates the potential influence of using Māori materials and techniques in architecture, whether in their current state as a restorative method, or through the means of abstraction in contemporary design. The thesis is a research journey through the lens of Ngāti Kuia and their devastation induced by the Crown’s 1856 Te Waipounamu purchase. By reclaiming customary building methodologies, acknowledging Ngāti Kuia ancestral pūrākau (story) and histories, this thesis seeks to regain a tangata whenua (people of the land) presence within this rohe (territory). The output of this thesis will be the creation of a design process which can be applied to nine architectural pouwhenua (land markers) located at the wāhi tapu (places of significance) of Matua Houtere’s ancestral narrative. These structures provide whānau with the ability to re-establish, reconnect and share kōrero (conversations/narratives), as well as teach and identify their Ngāti Kuiatanga (Ngāti Kuia practices, beliefs and culture). For this research, only one of these pouwhenua structures is designed: the whare wānanga (place of learning) at Titīrangi. Together the kaupapa (intention) of this thesis is to develop a design pallete and process that uses architecture as a tool to reactivate Māori materials, mātauranga (skills, knowledge and understandings), wāhi tapu and pūrākau, and apply them within the context of contemporary design, renewing the connection of tangata whenua with their lands.
Year of Completion
Thesis Design