'Living building' revealed as Tuhoe headquarters opens

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$15m project aims to be country's most sustainable

Tamati Kruger
Tamati Kruger

Tuhoe's new $15 million headquarters, which aims to be the most advanced sustainable building in New Zealand, will officially open today in Taneatua.

Te Wharehou o Tuhoe has been designed to have no environmental impact, be integrated into its surrounding landscape and to give back to the world around it.

Its aim is to be the most advanced sustainable building in New Zealand.

Months of hard work will be on display today at the official opening. An invitation has been extended to all, with guests expected at 10.30am before an 11am pohiri. A ribbon-cutting ceremony takes place at 1pm before the building is opened for a walk through.

Lunch will be at 1.30pm followed by the opening of Te Wharepuri (the Tuhoe Library and Archives) exhibit and then an opportunity to meet with the design team.

From 3pm there will be music, dance and comedy and a global mix of cuisine will be offered from night stalls. The evening concludes at 9pm.

The "living building" meets tough environmental standards which reflect the environmental values of the Tuhoe people.

It follows stringent guidelines set down by the International Living Futures Institute and requires the process of designing, building and operating the finished building to be sustainable across seven areas - site, water, energy, health, materials, equity and beauty. Tuhoe planned to use its own timber supplies for about 95 per cent of the building including newly harvested trees for construction and gifted fallen and dead trees from the Urewera's forest for landscaping, flooring and seating.

Tuhoe chairman Tamati Kruger had previously described the project as a "big deal" for both Tuhoe and New Zealand.

Staff had spent time in Te Urewera sourcing the timber and 10 local people were trained in the art of earthbrick making. They then trained 150 volunteers who spent three weeks making the 5000 man-moulded bricks.

When the project was unveiled in 2012 Tuhoe chief executive Kirsti Luke said for Tuhoe, the building was about a lot more than the environment.

It was built by Kiwi building company Arrow International and architects Jasmax. The project is also a world first for its seismic-restraint timber structure.

Te Wharehou o Tuhoe will feature on TV One's Marae at 10am tomorrow.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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