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W H A K A T A U I R A  -

Ko Tāne pupuke

Tāne is welling up (designs, thoughts and plans are springing up in profusion.)



Similar to the uara/values, the selected precedents are starting points for your own exploration. Each precedent has more than one uara running through its veins. Where appropriate, we have signalled the more dominant uara being discussed within the selected project. However, as a gentle reminder the uara are relational and tend to playfully fold in and out of each other. 

T Ū R A M A  R E T R E A T

Location: 14 Tapsell Road, Fairy Springs, Rotorua

Iwi: Te Arawa

Hapū: Ngāti Waoku

Architect/Designer: RTA Studios – Richard Naish (architect) & Paora Tapsell (concept designer & home owner) 

Though all five values are present in this project, Whakapapa and Whenua are the driving uara and have been highlighted over others.


Exterior view of Turama Retreat (Photograph by Patrick Reynolds. 'Turama Retreat', from


Tūrama Retreat explores ideas of a Ngāti Waoku Whakapapa. Using slected ley lines as a primary method, the mana* of Ngāti Waoku is reimagining into an architectural form. The ley lines both orientate the built form on site as well as shape the form. The use of ley lines can also be considered as elements of Whenua as it highlights relationships between Ngāti Waoku and surrounding natural landmarks and or past events.

*Mana is understood (in this instance) as a customary authority, shaped by Ngāti Waoku’s connection to their ancestral lands.


Tūrama Retreat was commissioned by Paora Tapsell to replace the original whānau home that Quentin Taiporutu Tapihana built for his parents. Tūrama Retreat is named after Hine-i-Tūrama, a chiefly ancestress of Ngāti Waoku. Tūrama Retreat is designed to be a korowai or cloak of protection for future generations Ngāti Waoku. Acknowledging Hine-i-Tūrama in the naming of this whare (house) is an element of Whakapapa. But Tūrama is more than just the name. The korowai reference allows some of the values and likely personal traits of Hine-i-Tūrama to be articulated through the architectural form.


Hine-i-Tūrama: a chief ancestress of Ngāti Waoku, and the namesake for this project. (Portrait by Unknown Artist. 'Hine-i-Turama', from 


Whakapapa and Whenua are the two uara Tūrama Retreat prioritises in this study (see Whenua and Whakapapa). 

The four ley lines used in the design, point to significant places to the Ngāti Waoku hapū. They were engraved into the foundation and influenced the shape and orientation of the building. They are listed and explained below as follows:


The four ley lines used in the design, point to significant places to the Ngāti Waoku hapū. They were engraved into the foundation and influenced the shape and orientation of the building. They are listed and explained below as follows:

Ley Line 1: Ongatoro to Maketu to Tongariro
The first ley line begins at the Ongatoro tuahu (shrine) of Ngatoroirangi, from which the toka (anchor stone) of Tūrama is placed (see Plan Study). Ley Line 1 continues through Maketu, where the Te Arawa waka landed and now resides. Finally, Ley Line 1 extends onto Mt. Tongariro, a revered maunga for the Te Arawa iwi.

Ley Line 2:  Tūrama to Maungatautari
The second ley line connects Orakau, where Hine-i-Tūrama passed away, and to her maunga (mountain) Maungatautari. Ley Line 2 also intersects the maunga of Ngongotaha as a way to pay homage to Hine-Tūrama’s foster father and chief, Te Amohau.

Ley Line 3: Tūrama to Ra'iatea, French Polynesia

The third ley line points towards Ra'iatea in French Polynesia. This is where Hine-i-Tūrama’s Ngāti Raukawa and Te Arawa ancestors descend from.  Ley Line 3  also acknowledges Taputapuatea marae; the marae to Hine-i-Tūrama’s ancestors andplace believed to be where all her descendants will return to, before passing on to enter the heavens of their ancestors.


Ra'iatea is also the soil from which kūmara was introduced to Aotearoa by Whakaotirangi. Her gardens made it possible for Tainui to settle in one area instead of moving around to seek food and changed how people live across Aotearoa. Eventually the kūmara was brought to Maketū, some of which is grown and harvested on the Tūrama site. 







Site diagram of Tūrama Retreat showing ley lines in relation to main building. Diagram by Taituarā, 2024. Not to scale.


The following examples within the internal program are emphasized as some key design decisions. These can be seen to demonstrate an integration of Whakapapa and Whenua uara into the design of Tūrama. Each point has a corresponding marker in the plan for your reference.

Plan Study











Ground floor plan of Tūrama Retreat showing key design elements influenced by uara. Diagram by Taituarā, 2024. Not to scale.




The 33 posts or pou (shown in red) that enclose the primary mass of the house is an acknowledgement of Ngāti Waoku relationship with the Mamakū forest. Each pou represent the ancestors that once upheld the Mamakū forest. The Mamakū forest roughly sits along the same axis as ley line 1 (Ngongotaha and Maungatautari). Not only do these pou highlight qualities of Whakapapa and Whenua in the context of this work, it sets the stage for key material selections that will be discussed in cross section.

Trees brought down from the Mamakū bush surround the whare and were integrated into the landscape design. The aspiration here is to provide another layer of protection over Tūrama over time. With the whare built with a century-long perspective, the growing trees will offer increasing shelter and protection for Tūrama.

Carved into the pou, Waoku, the chief ancestress of Ngāti Waoku from whom Hine-i-Tūrama descends, stands within her vessel. This vessel bears the iwi's representative guardianship symbols; the kokako (blue-wattled crow) and the pekapeka mamaku (native bat).

Carved pou of Waoku. (Photograph by Tūrama Retreat. 'Fireplace' from 


The connection between Whakatō Mauri and the fireplace in this setting helps illustrate the qualities of Tikanga (see Cross Section Study). Whakatō Mauri refers to a ceremonial blessing involving the placement of a mauri stone (representing the source of emotions/essence) beneath the pou-tuarongo (post at the back of a meeting house or wharenui). This stone symbolizes a new breath given to the whare. In alignment with this practice, a mauri stone, taken from Maketu and blessed, has been positioned beneath fireplace of Tūrama. Before positioning the mauri stone, the site underwent detailed surveying to identify the ley lines' intersection points. The mauri now rests at this intersection, with the ley lines intricately carved into the foundation, converging beneath the fireplace. The intentional placement of both the fireplace and mauri stone aligns with the recognized meeting points of all ley lines in this work, seamlessly combining Whakapapa, Whenua, and Tikanga qualities. 
Perspective 3.webp

Ley lines of project converging beneath fireplace where the Mauri stone is buried. (Photograph by Unknown Photographer. 'Fireplace' from 


Āhuatanga can be physically acknowledged in several ways in this work. The Whakapapa, Whenua and Tikanga qualities inherited from the relationship between the fireplace and the mauri stone invokes a gathering space similar to the Āhuatanga of a wharenui. While residential houses typically don't adhere to Whakatō Mauri process, Taspell felt that a Whakatō Mauri aligned with the aspirations of this work. 

Cross Section

Long section through Tūrama Retreat showing Mauri stone beneath fireplace. Diagram by Taituarā, 2024. Not to scale.

The roof's form, resembling a korowai (cloak), can be seen as a symbol of protection over future generations and is just a starting point for understanding Āhuatanga in this context. The materiality of the cedar ceiling panels goes beyond visual aesthetics to acknowledge a textural resemblance to the korowai referenced in the roof structure. 

Ceiling Panels.jpg

Cedar ceiling panels lining interior of mezzanine. (Photograph by Unknown Photographer. 'Tūrama Interior' from  Rotorua House | RTA Studio)


The diagram below provides a summary for the points discussed, showing the driving uara of this project and the key design elements for each. As many of these uara are interrelated, some design elements may appear in multiple categories.

Whakatō Mauri
Korowai References
Carved Pou
Trees from Mamakū forest
Whakatō Mauri
Kūmara Gardens
Korowai References
Whakatō Mauri
Ley Lines
33 Pou (Posts)
Carved Pou of Waoku
Whakatō Mauri

O T O P A R A E  H O U S E

Location: Kopaki, Waikato

Architect/Designer: Mitchell Stout Dodd Architects Ltd

Though all five values are present in this project, Whakapapa and Whenua are the driving uara and have been highlighted over others.


North West Facade.webp

Northern elevation of Otoparae House (Photograph by Patrick Reynolds. 'Otoparae House' from Mitchell Stout Dodd Architects)


The name Otoparae embodies the idea of 'a place to stand and look’ and is a testament to the intention behind the design. Following precolonial building traditions,  Otoparae seeks shelter within the whenua, establishing a sanctuary where occupants can simultaneously be embraced by, and visually embrace Papatūanuku.


Designed in section, Otoparae follows the aesthetics of a tramping hut, with the intention that Whenua became a part of the occupants’ daily routines, rather than being cut off from it. The design makes reference to ancient Māori wharepuni (sleeping house) which were dug into the earth, using earthbanks for insulation. With wharepuni the entrances, often modest and close to the ground, required inhabitants to physically and metaphorically, crawl into the land for rest. This is how Whenua is explored in this work. In replicating this process, Otoparae engages Āhuatanga by going beyond physical likeness to explore atmospheric and spiritual connections with whenua.

Wharepuni Northland Te Ara.jpg

A painting (1827) of a Wharepuni (sleeping house) in a Northland community showing the door low to the ground, requiring one to enter in on all fours. (Painting by Augustus Earle. Wharepuni, Northland from Te Ara).


The arrangement of the internal program places emphasis on physical and atmospheric separation to explore Āhuatanga and Whenua. These moments are highlighted in the following examples: