Inspired by TV One’s The New Zealand Home, NZ On Screen’s Nicky Harrop revisits some key chapters in our architectural history.

The concept of the New Zealand home - and who is able to live in one - is something of a contentious topic right now.

Our history shows one of architectural innovation, occasionally born out of abundance, often out of necessity, and sometimes, as with today, out of crisis.

As highlighted in The New Zealand Home, early Māori architecture offered many visionary ideas which were slow to be adopted by European settlers. This episode of Māori Television series Whare Māori looks at the influence of the concept of 'the village,' both on historical and contemporary design.

Watch Whare Māori - The Village here:

Made in 1946, Housing in New Zealand takes us on a journey from settler huts to early modernist homes. Along the way we visit villa-filled "slums" (looking suspiciously like some of today's more desirable Auckland addresses) and get a serious case of déjà vu, with mention of a housing crisis affecting 26,000 families for whom owning or renting is out of reach.


Watch Housing in New Zealand here:

As mid-century dawned, all eyes were on Christchurch. A modernist movement, soon to be dubbed the 'Christchurch Style,' had taken hold in the city, lead by a group of both young and experienced architects. Beyond The Garden charts the rise of their influence, also focusing on the works of key practitioner Miles Warren.

Watch The Elegant Shed - Beyond The Garden here:
The Elegant Shed - Behind the Garden

Come the 70s, it appears things had started to get just plain weird. In Four Shorts on Architecture, director (now famous actor) Sam Neill creates cartoon superhero 'Architecture Man' to showcase some of NZ's grooviest contemporary homes and buildings, fighting a war on mediocrity along the way.

Watch Four Shorts on Architecture here:

Fast forward to the 90s, and it seems bigger (and beige) was definitely deemed better. TVNZ series Open Home offers a snapshot of the decade, exploring grand designs, renovation dilemmas, and some very much 'of the era' styling. This episode visits a Parnell mansion and a Remuera reproduction antique importer, but balances things out somewhat with a trip to Fred and Myrtle Flutey's legendary paua shell house in Bluff.

Watch Open Home here:
Open Home - Series Four, Episode 13

Our current decade sees Christchurch leading the architectural charge once again - though this time for very different reasons. Triumph of the City examines the post-quake rebuild, focusing on a community-led approach to creating a new, innovative central city.

Watch an excerpt from Triumph of the City here:

You can see more great NZ Architecture here, in NZ On Screen's Spotlight.