Maori architect applies te ao Maori concepts to landscape architecture

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By Michael Cugley, Te Rito Journalism Cadet

Whakapapa is at the heart of Maori architect William Hatton’s approach to landscape architecture.

“There are layers in the whakapapa that connect us all. Likewise in my mahi there are layers in the design and I want to let it be known that we are one with the whenua. no separation.”

Hatton, who is Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Rongomaiwahine, Muaūpoko, Ngāti Raukawa ki te Tonga and Rangitāne, is a cultural design advisor to Auckland firm Boffa Miskell.

Credit/Boffa Miskell

The Hawke’s Bay native says he is determined to challenge traditional approaches to landscaping, applying te ao Māori principles to design and transformation.

“Instead of designing for what we need, I like to design for what the whenua needs.”

It is inspired by tīpuna and their conception of pā and māra kai around working with the whenua and natural systems to support people.

“Our people were architects in their own right,” he says.

As a Maori scholar at Victoria University, he was able to explore the inclusion of Maori mātauranga in landscape architecture.

This was the catalyst for him to focus specifically on landscape architecture.

“I take kōrero from iwi and hapū to express design in our environments.”

Hatton says he is excited by the growing interest in the estate by other young Maori and the opportunity to “reclaim our identity in an urban environment”.

“We whakapapa at the whenua. We belong to the whenua. And we should reconnect to the whenua for our health, identity and well-being.”

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