TOA Architects’ Nicholas (Nick) Dalton and Te Ari Prendergast are passionate about creating affordable, beautiful and accessible housing for people “who want a house that speaks to New Zealand.” Justine Harvey, ArchiPro’s managing editor, spoke with Nick (Tūhoe/Te Arawa) and Te Ari (Te Whānau ā Apanui/Ngāi Tahu/Ngāti Porou) about their approach to different typologies for multi-housing, with the aim of helping to ease New Zealand’s housing crisis in a meaningful way.
To understand why specific Māori housing is so important, it is worth considering that, traditionally, collective living was common place among extended whānau or family hapū. It was founded on intergenerational living and enabled communal sharing of tasks, resources and responsibilities.
However, after World War Two, when large numbers of Māori migrated from their rural locations into New Zealand’s main cities, they were forced to adapt to standard housing typologies born out of 19th century industrialisation and the notion of the ‘nuclear family’. Naturally, this did not provide for traditional whānau living, nor the cultural support that was previously integral and, as a result, Māori culture, society and language faced a serious decline.
Today, modern housing developments continue to focus on meeting the needs of the nuclear family, despite the stated aspiration of Māori, Pasifika and others for intergenerational and communal living. However, there are now a few design firms that are trying to resolve this situation, including TOA Architects, which has made it a major priority of its practice.
“There are a number of levels that we want to address,” explains Nick. “In Aotearoa, buildings are reasonably expensive, but that’s not the end of the world; however, coupled with land costs, it becomes really expensive to build. So, cost is a big factor and we have been designing our modular housing to address the supply issue – by creating employment through a training scheme an a certificated course to train assemblers to put our houses together. It’s about giving people mana through the process – and because there aren’t enough builders.”