Build 153 - Giving Back [Industry Profile]

By Dael Climo - 1 April 2016, Build 153

Jade Kake grew up as part of a community of like minded people. This early experience has informed her thinking as a graduate architect and in developing a thesis on a communal solution for culturally appropriate housing for Maori. 

Q. Where did you grow up and go to school, then university?

My Māori mother and Dutch father met in Australia in the 1970s and in 1982 were involved in the establishment of Billen Cliffs, a community with a common interest in rural lifestyles, affordable housing and land regeneration.

I spent most of my childhood there, before moving to Brisbane to study for a Bachelor of Architectural Design at the University of Queensland, which I completed in 2009.

After graduation, I was encouraged by my aunty to reach out to our whanaunga (extended family member) Rau Hoskins, a leader in Māori architecture. I moved to Aotearoa in 2012 and, with Rau’s encouragement, enrolled in a Master of Architecture degree. I was able to complete my final year of study full-time thanks to the support of BRANZ.

Q. Why did you decide to study architecture?

A childhood where discussions of social and environmental sustainability were common cemented a lifelong interest in community building and guided me towards architecture.

Despite a youth spent in Australia, I maintained an enduring connection with Aotearoa New Zealand. A growing understanding of breaches of Te Tiriti o Waitangi sparked my interest in transferring lessons from my Australian experiences and developing professional skills for the benefit of our people in Aotearoa.

Q. Tell me about your thesis on culturally appropriate housing in Te Tai Tokerau.

I developed a proposal around the establishment of papakāinga on our ancestral land at Pehiāweri. Most intentional communities – such as the one I was raised on – draw on European models. However, there are parallels and transferable lessons between my experiences growing up in Australia and the development of papakāinga as a viable model for Māori communities in Aotearoa New Zealand.

I had always intended to leverage my education to benefit my whānau, while contributing to knowledge around culturally appropriate indigenous housing. It was fortuitous that our marae was ready to undertake this project at a time when I was preparing to complete my thesis.

Q. How can New Zealand lift its game in finding solutions for culturally appropriate Māori housing?

Workable solutions already exist. However, one of the key barriers to implementation is low uptake within both government and industry. In 2002, Housing New Zealand Corporation contracted the development of Ki Te Hau Kāinga, a design guide for culturally appropriate Māori housing. It was underutilised but did create a resource base for promoting and discussing culturally appropriate Māori housing.

Tāmaki Redevelopment Company has, in the past year, engaged designTRIBE to design an urban papakāinga-style development on a standard quarter-acre section in Glen Innes. The papakāinga will house an extended family of up to 22 people across four dwellings and include private and communal outdoor spaces.

Building cultural literacy and support for appropriate housing solutions within central and local government agencies and the development community will go a long way towards the practical implementation of workable housing solutions for Māori.

Q. Where do you work now?

I have recently started working as an architectural graduate at designTRIBE Architects, a kaupapa Māori architectural practice.

Prior to this, I worked for Te Matapihi he Tirohanga mō te Iwi Trust (the peak body for Māori housing), working with government to inform the development of Māori housing policy and providing support to develop regional Māori housing ‘organisational infrastructure’. It’s a role I have been proud to hold for the past 2 years whilst I completed my architectural studies.

I’ve been fortunate to be involved in some high-level strategic work advocating for Māori design and better housing outcomes for Māori. Now it’s time to learn the important but not-so-sexy technical aspects, like detailing and producing working drawings.

A standout experience during my career has been advocating for the integration of the Te Aranga principles (a set of Māori urban design principles) within Auckland Council policy and processes.

Q. What are your aspirations as an architect?

To be a useful person and to make a positive contribution to our Māori communities through the design of our built environments.

Q. Anything else you would like to add?

Architecture is challenging but ultimately rewarding.

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