Owae Marae Ko Tamawāhine



Completion Date


  • Architecture
  • Interior Design
  • NZIA 2024 Western Architecture Award
"The design sets a new standard for modern wharekai, meeting the weight of history and aspirations of the future."

The rebuild of the wharekai at Owae Marae is a major milestone in the ongoing upgrade works established in the 2018 Master planning work.

Originally opened in July 1921 Ko Tamawāhine had served the community well, however its condition had slowly declined, it no longer met building code, and was deemed not fit-for-purpose.

The brief for the development of Ko Tamawāhine focused on the importance of providing manaakitanga to the level that reflected the significance of Ōwae Marae. It was essential the new build support future aspirations and large gatherings. The design response is a 530m2 building that accommodates 224 in the dining hall for events, with a supporting commercial kitchen. The new wharekai recedes slightly from its original position to give prominence to the original wharenui Te Ikaroa-a-Māui – and offer better connection between the buildings.

The building features, rotating aluminum fins at the northern façade that allow light to filter through and illuminate the cultural pattern punched into the metal. Glulam timber portals form the structure and are exposed as part of the interior design to add warmth along with the plywood wall and ceiling linings. The interior reveals another special feature in the main dining space – where rimu weather boards from the original historic wharekai create subtle wall panel in the new wharekai.