Te Manawataki o Te Papa
The heartbeat of Te Papa
Te Manawataki o Te Papa is set to be a vibrant, cultural hub in Tauranga's city centre. Located on the Te Papa peninsula, the area was chosen by Māori as a safe haven centuries ago. It was once a place of trade, cultural significance, and a thriving heart for all who settled, while also bearing a history of grievances and hurt. The project signifies an historic moment of acknowledgement, reconciliation, and mutual collaboration between indigenous Māori and Tauranga City Council, coinciding with significant settlement agreements achieved in recognition of Aotearoa New Zealand's founding colonial document, the Treaty of Waitangi.
The project's creation includes a museum for Tauranga's heritage collection, an exhibition space, library and community space, gallery, and a civic whare for Council meetings and Indigenous events. These uses anchor a wider civic campus that flows down to Tauranga's waterfront, integrating with the wider network of cultural, natural, and civic amenity across the city.
Four design pou (pillars) were derived from an intensive engagement process with the local community and Mana Whenua (Indigenous representatives) to weave a rich vision. The ‘Ever-Present Heartbeat’ symbolizes the beating heart pumping vibrancy, knowledge, equity, togetherness, and prosperity into the community. The ‘Ever-Treasured’ narrative nurtures and reveals the rich local heritage, binding together a shared understanding and raising all cultures. The ‘Ever-Responsive Vessel’ is part of the city that will never rest; growing, changing, and nourishing a thriving community. The ‘Ever Anchored’ pillar binds the community together around a safe place to anchor and flourish.
The building sits above a vibrant ground plane, weaving and connecting movement, designed as an extension of the public spaces within the building, encouraging welcome and invitation. The museum and exhibition spaces are suspended above the ground plane as floating sculptural timber volumes that reference traditional storage vessels. The facade articulation on each face of these volumes reference repetition, rhythm, depth, and the play of light. This texture continues to the undersides to heighten this tectonic expression and inspire the curved edges and patterning of the ceilings.
The civic whare space signals its mana (presence) with its jewel-like form and orientation towards the sea and frontage to the plaza, which is the true public heart of the precinct. Promoting inclusivity in the processes of governance, particularly for youth, it maximizes transparency and access, dissolving the barrier between democratic processes and the public.
The Te Ao Māori approach of respecting the natural environment has influenced the materiality of the project and its embodied carbon outcomes. The facades use natural terracotta, and the primary structure of the museum, exhibition space, and civic whare is constructed in locally-sourced mass timber.