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Timber Design Awards

Te Uru Taumatua

Te Uru Taumatua was constructed to house the new tribal authority for Te Iwi o Tūhoe, reflecting Tūhoe as a nation and – through its design and materiality – providing a strong vision for the future.

Te Uru Taumatua was constructed to house the new tribal authority for Te Iwi o Tūhoe, reflecting Tūhoe as a nation and – through its design and materiality – providing a strong vision for the future. Te Iwi o Tuhoe’s decision to build to the stringent criteria of the Living Building Challenge has delivered one of the most advanced sustainable buildings in New Zealand.

Immediately obvious when arriving on-site is a 23m glue-laminated timber arch designed to span the front entrance of the Tribal Chamber. Supporting the roof, the arch symbolises Tuhoetanga o te ra (the sun at its highest point of the day) and frames the large mahau (porch). The building has two major functional elements, linked by a public daily entry which welcomes visitors to a café, library and archive of Taonga, to administrative offices. The naturally ventilated building is dressed using totara, rimu and matai; their use and positioning within the structure reflective of Tuhoe’s symbolic relationship to Te Urewera. Massive solid timber elements exposed on the interior expresses the structure and security. Inside, timber reflects a Tuhoe hierarchy of the forest (Ngahere); Totara walls, Rimu linings and Matai floors.

Around 95% of timber used in the building is FSC certified renewable radiata pine; including newly harvested native trees and gifted fallen and dead trees from Te Urewera. The building’s structure comprises an innovative shear wall and diaphragm floor system; supported on over 200 hollow round pine piles vibrated 8m into the ground, allowing it to withstand a 1-in-2500-year earthquake event, achieve a 100-year durability rating, and avoid problems associated with liquefiable foundation material.