Awarua - our building
Gisborne District Council's new administration building was officially opened on 15 January 2018. The building is named Awarua.
Video of opening and speeches
Speech by Mayor Meng Foon
Speech by Chief Executive Nedine Thatcher Swann
Official opening ceremony
Speech by Hon Nanaia Mahutia MP
Local Government Minister
Council's Maori Engagement Coordinater
The building was designed by Tohunga Derek Lardelli who was brought on to give a cultural grounding that was more reflective of the Tairawhiti region.
At the centre of it all is the waka haurua – the sides of the building replicate the curves of the waka paddled here and the ships that sailed here. A waka hangs above the main entrance and Derek encouraged all who pass under it to toss their troubles in the hull.
“It is about the waka – the vehicle of excellence that travels through time – in the past and the future,” he said. “It celebrates our dual heritage – whether we came through using stars or a compass. We are all here for a reason . . . to make this our house.”
The name of the building celebrated the joining of 2 cultures, while finding there are others to consider too. For Derek, the people were the most important part of the equation.
“It is about duality – us and Tairawhiti tanga.”
The site itself had determined the layout of the building, with a large compass etched into the concrete at the entrance. Inside and outside the building is a zig zag pattern, that once again paid tribute to awarua.
Awa meaning pathway and rua meaning the repository of knowledge.
“The whole building is embedded with awarua, so that everyone feels comfortable going from one side to the other. All the fibre and fabric that weaves us as a community is in the ceiling.”
The back wall of the front office has embedded all the energy that comes from Papatuanuku (mother earth), as is the floor throughout.
“You can’t go anywhere in the building without stepping on it,” says Derek.
“As a community, we know where we have come from and know where we are going.”