Ngāmotu House


Te Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa


New Plymouth

Completion Date


  • Architecture
  • Landscape Architecture
  • Interior Design
"Ngāmotu house is a visual expression of commitment to whakapapa, to each other, and to our past." - Hemi Sundgren

The iwi-led redevelopment of this prominent New Plymouth building brings Te Atiawa back into its landscape and re-indigenises the space. It is another step in the long-term strategy for Te Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa to balance its commercial, cultural, social and environmental aspirations.

Working with existing buildings significantly reduces the environmental impact over building new. The six-storey 1960’s commercial building formerly known as the Atkinson Building has undergone a complete transformation comprising; seismic strengthening, mechanical upgrades, replacement of aluminium joinery, a new facade, entry landscaping and interior fit-out for various tenants.

The brief was to bring this building up to current building code requirements, while working closely with Te Atiawa and Ngāti Te Whiti to weave cultural narrative and design elements into the building. The name Ngāmotu House was gifted in recognition of a number of hapū collectively known as Ngā hapū o Ngāmotu. It is also the name of the culturally significant Ngā Motu Islands, and is a name now more widely used for New Plymouth.

The Aluminium façade honours Te Atiawa ancestor Rongoueroa, the mother of Awanuiārangi. Rongoueroa is represented as a parawai – a high status cloak made of flax fibre. This parawai wraps around the building and is a symbol of protection, integrity and collectivism.  It’s design also mirrors Taranaki Maunga as a tupuna for its people. The tāniko (weaving) pattern is in honour of our Te Atiawa and Taranaki weavers who were held in high regard for their craft. The niho patterns not only represent a tooth, but the communities in and around New Plymouth.

The colours, both inside and out, include blue to signify the moana (sea) and the traditional ‘Te Atiawa blue’. The red and orange represents the kōkōwai (red ochre) found on Taranaki Maunga and symbolises the vitality of the people of Te Atiawa, while black is a symbol for papatūānuku (Earth mother). The windows on each floor are tinted in different shades to reflect the horizontal layers of the mountain – from the green of the bush on the bottom to the white of the snow and blue of the sky higher up.