Sustainable Murihiku Marae development officially opens

"The idea was to create a space that looked to the past while moving into the future." - Murali Bhaskar

The reopening of Murihiku Marae in early June 2023 marked a significant milestone after almost a decade since the projects inception. The marae, located in Waihōpai Invercargill, not only stands as a testament to sustainable building practices, but also aims to achieve positive social outcomes for the community. BOON, the lead design consultant, worked closely with Waihōpai Runaka and consultant partners throughout the project.

The success of the project can be attributed to the concept of whakawhanaungatanga, which emphasises building relationships and connections. Despite a tight design program to meet funding milestones, effective communication, trust, and the availability of stakeholders enabled important design decisions to be made, facilitating progress. BOON joined the project in January 2021 amidst the pandemic, and by September 2021, had completed construction documentation and tendered the project to construction contractors.

The project involved the removal of multiple prefab buildings adjacent to the original wharenui, making way for a multi-purpose marae complex that offers additional functions and the ability to accommodate multiple services under one roof. The complex includes a large community space, meeting rooms, activity spaces, offices, and a new wharekai, catering to all generations from rangatahi  to kaumatua .

Prior to starting the design process, wānanga were held with Waihōpai trustees to understand their values and aspirations for the project. Through a series of hui, the cultural narrative was distilled, drawing inspiration from Tohorā – the whale and the wakataukī “Titiro whakamuri ki anga whakamua” (Look back and reflect so you can move forward). This cultural narrative played a significant role in shaping the entire design, both physically and spiritually. The site plan, entry locations, and spatial arrangement of the buildings were all guided by the cultural values and narrative identified during the project process.

Sustainability was a key focus of the project, and a comprehensive sustainability framework was implemented in line with the concept to achieve triple net zero energy status. The project showcases cutting edge innovative design that cleverly uses energy-efficient practices with a renewable energy source, measurables to offset carbon, zero net water, reduction in waste and emissions whilst achieving the aspirations of the hapū.

Along with papakāinga housing and the redevelopment of Murihiku Marae this project has provided a larger and more capable centre that can better meet the future needs of Waihōpai and its residents.

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Author: BOON - Design Thinkers