Te Puia is home to the Põhutu geyser, mud pools and hot springs, attracting over half a million visitors each year.
This project was a significant development for the national schools of wood carving, weaving and stone and bone carving, giving them a new Wananga Precinct. The new space has been designed to strengthen their work and ensure the ongoing preservation of Maori art, craft and culture.
The unique koru design of the building was completed in 170 curved precast panels. The installation of three 7m tall carved panels (pou) each weighing more than 2,300kg creates a stunning entranceway for visitors.
The build was undertaken in three stages. The first stage was the creation of pedestrian and vehicular access routes including a new access tunnel, pedestrian track and maintenance road.
The Wananga itself (Stage Two) was a new 1,422m2 building with extensive covered areas, walkways and verandahs. An internal suspended walkway allows for visitor viewing into the workshop areas. The inclusion of a gantry crane allows the entire carving process to be undertaken within one building.
At the completion of this stage, the carving school occupants moved from their existing building into the new facility. The final stage was the renovation and upgrade of the existing carving school to incorprate a new gallery space, ta moko (tattoo) studio, offices, staff room and visitor lounge.
Hawkins was able to bring specific experience to this project as the team had successfully completed a signficant earlier project on the Te Puia site. This knowledge was vital for quickly understanding the challenges of the site and the client’s expectations.
Working on the fringe of a gully with the edge dropping away to boiling mud pools provided obvious working challenges. Collaborative work on value engineering options in the early stages delayed the start on site which meant that most of the construction was carried out throughout the winter with the roof not installed until mid-winter rather than mid-autumn as anticipated.
Te Puia remained in operation throughout the construction works. A staged approach to the delivery enabled visitors to view the carvers at work in their new environment from January, allowing the facility to be operational at the earliest possible time. This meant there was always a constant flow of tourists moving throughout the building. A truly collaborative approach enabled work on Stage 3 to begin before staff had moved. This meant that programme acceleration could be maintained. It was important that Hawkins worked closely with client and consultants to ensure there were no disruptions to either construction progress or the operation of the precinct during this time.
This precinct development will provide an enriched visitor experience to the ever growing tourism numbers and contemporary world class facilities for its students.