"Almost spaceship-like" - unusual new marae building

A new marae building in the Bay of Plenty which has just won a top architectural award has been described as looking like a spaceship.

The building at Tanatana Marae at Waimana won the supreme ADNZ/Resene Architectural Design award.

It was designed by Aladina Harunani of apa architects and project managers.

Marae committee representative Martin Rakuraku said the new wharemate was an awesome blend of old and new "almost spaceship-like and attracts visitors from all over."


Tuhoe tradition is unique in that the deceased are not mourned in the wharenui meeting house, but instead in a wharemate, he said.

Temporary shelters used previously at the marae were no longer suitable so a new permanent building was required.

"Traditionally the oratory takes place outside, whether it's rain, hail or sunshine. But we do occasionally get bad weather here and it's important for people to be warm and comfortable," he said.

"We decided we wanted this new building to house the mourning family and to be a symbol of the future."

The new building has big shallow arches which end like fingers stretching out and grasping the land.