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The new set of guidelines, called He Aratohu, was formalised earlier this month and underlines the university’s ongoing working relationship with Maori in the project design space — especially in Dunedin, to make the campus more welcoming and inclusive of Maori staff and students.
The guidelines will be followed by design teams in the planning of the university’s projects on its campuses from Auckland to Invercargill.
They embed mana whenua values in the design of built environment projects in each region where campus development is planned, with particular attention paid to Dunedin, home to the biggest University of Otago community.
Present construction projects include the new Te Rangihiroa residential college in Dunedin, the food sciences redevelopment, the Hakitekura academic retreat in Queenstown and a major redevelopment on the Christchurch campus in Te Papa Hauora health precinct.
University campus development division strategic resource planner Kevin Wood was excited about the guidelines and said they were a "road map" to help the university commit to its obligations under te Tiriti o Waitangi and transform the campus "to a place where iwi can feel at home".
"We want to celebrate our heritage, our place, our Maori and European culture, and our notable university alumni.
"Design can be a positive tool to aid development and help achieve better-quality environments by creating great buildings, spaces and places that are distinctive.
"Positively working with te ao Maori and embedding mana whenua values into design offers up significant opportunities and responds appropriately to the intention of partnership in the Treaty of Waitangi."
He said the guidelines’ strategic objectives for the future included a greater acknowledgement of the past and future direction for the organisation, allowing Maori students to see themselves and their communities within the university community, helping tell the stories of the land and its people to present and future generations, and creating context in the environment with buildings and developments that are of their place.