A shining bright orange reflective copper waharoa [entrance gate] marks pedestrian access off Waterview's Great North Rd to Kōkihi, the new 95-apartment project by the Ockham-Marutūāhu Partnership.
This is the second building by the Pākehā/Māori collaboration which is developing 541 affordable new units in four blocks, worth well over $300 million, and many KiwiBuild properties.
The outdoor pool's floor is decorated in tiles shaped as a pātiki [flounder]. Redbrick walls look to be woven in harakeke, like a kete. Decorative wall features reflect distinctively Marutūāhu designs.
The block's very kupu means new spring or beginning to grow.
The three-level units in three blocks with basement parking/storage was opened on Friday by Housing Minister Megan Woods, along with Social Development and Employment Minister Carmel Sepuloni and New Lynn MP Deborah Russell.
Whānau in the five iwi of the Marutūāhu confederation [Ngāti Rongoū, Ngāti Tamaterā, Ngāti Whanaunga, Ngāti Maru, Ngāti Pāoa] are descended from the ancestor Marutūāhu who came from Kāwhia on the west coast of the North Island.
Paul Majurey, Marutūāhu chairman, said: "Te aō Māori must be reflected."
He was speaking of the business partnership and its four new-build projects.
Part of that is Kōkihi's architectural features, which are the same as Marutūāhu designs displayed at Hotunui, the wharenui at Tāmaki Paenga Hira/Auckland War Memorial Museum.
"Motifs on the exterior reflect Hotunui carvings and design elements," said Majurey, also chairman of Auckland Council's Eke Panuku. "This is one of the common themes and it comes from our whare tipuna - aspects like the tukutuku panels."
So many people arrived for Friday's opening that Ockham's Mark Todd - whose parents also attended - announced the ground-floor residents' communal meeting room near the pool was too small.
Standing in the basement car park on the 11-degree day just after 10am, he started with: "It's not often we finish a building but a bit more regular these days as we scale up."
Majurey told assembled ministers, councillors, local board members and guests: "Whanaungatanga is a fundamental part of the Māori world and relationships, centuries-old and what we're about. Marutūāhu and Ockham is a very, very special partnership in relationship that comes out of people coming together and their world views. There's an emphasis on relationship, not profit, and leaving a legacy to Tāmaki Makaurau."
Friday had begun with dawn karakia and blessing, he said.
He recalled growing up in dairy factory villages "and our first home was a Māori Affairs house".
"One day, the sign went up saying it was Māori Affairs housing and all our neighbours bought us free fences and walls because they wanted to protect us," Majurey said, referring to the racism and ostracism his family suffered.
After his speech, he said the irony was that his father was a keen rose-grower and their property's garden was soon one of the area's most beautiful.
Housing Minister Megan Woods said Kōkihi was delivered ahead of schedule and an example of how to do great development.
"Exemplary developments" from the partnership completed were the already-opened Tuatahi in Mt Albert and now Kōkihi, "instantly recognisable with their brick facades and motifs and the next two will be equally impressive", she said of the under-construction Aroha at 1817 Great North Rd, Avondale and Manaaki at 9 Jordan Ave, Onehunga.
"We've taken seven houses and created 95 new apartments. There are 95 new apartments on land where seven houses once stood and it's 10km from the CBD, on cycleways, bus routes," Woods said emphasising the new uses of Auckland land with intensive housing models.
Academic and tohunga Dr Koro Ngapo said the partnership with Ockham had been running for five years.
Martin King, the Ockham architect behind the project, said design features honoured te aō Māori and landscaping included indigenous plants.
But the project was not easy, being so close to the Waterview Tunnel and a previously unknown gas line and concrete foundations were discovered on the site when work began, he said.
The apartments were orientated towards the north for maximum sunlight and the outdoor pool also facing the north for residents to enjoy warmth, King said.
And that copper waharoa's kupu?
Ngapo said it is Kaiwaka, the star of the iwi that star heralds the beginning of the lunar month of Kohitātea (January) or Hakihea (December).