Maori urban design principles suggested for city buildings

Alex Kitson. Photo: Supplied
Alex Kitson. Photo: Supplied
It would be good to see the incorporation of Maori ideas and principles become more widespread in property design, a University of Otago graduate says after researching Ngai Tahu residential developments in Christchurch.

Alexandra Kitson examined the developments in Christchurch as part of her Master of Planning thesis.

Both developments illustrated Maori urban design principles, derived primarily from mana whenua priorities and practices.

Ms Kitson said she found the consultations had a significant influence on decision-making and the final form the projects took.

Examples of features incorporated were "a lot of artwork", intricate designs, pathways, and open watercourses.

"Some of them were a lot more obvious, but then some were a lot more discreet."

There was an emphasis on working with what was already there, for instance retaining small waterways rather than diverting them away.

Extensive natural vegetation was also incorporated on both sites.

Ms Kitson was interested in "innovative ways to capture culture and traditional narratives" and thought her findings would be useful for local authorities as well as for property developers.

"I think it's innovative and pushes the boundaries."

Her thesis was part of a wider study examining urbanisation and post-treaty settlements in First Nations in Canada and Ngai Tahu in New Zealand.

Department of Geography head Prof Michelle Thompson-Fawcett was co-ordinating the project along with University of Waterloo academic Dr Janice Barry .

Prof Thompson-Fawcett said Lincoln University professor of Maori and Indigenous Development Hirini Matunga was also involved.

Ms Kitson said she hoped her research would "encourage people to think a bit more outside the box and consider more than one narrative to a landscape".

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