Story: Māori architecture – whare Māori

Te Hau-ki-Tūranga wharenui

Unlike European architecture, traditional Māori architecture did not place high value on the permanence of its structures. Buildings were made of natural materials, which decayed quickly but could be easily replaced. Houses were designed to be abandoned when new food sources were needed. After the arrival of European colonists, Māori built the first large carved wharenui (meeting houses), structures designed to have a long life. The great wharenui Te Hau-ki-Tūranga, now in the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington, was built in 1842 on the East Coast. It is the oldest surviving such building in the world. In this clip from his 2011 television series Whare Māori, Māori architectural designer Rau Hoskins looks at the significance of Te Hau-ki-Tūranga.

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How to cite this page:

Deidre Brown, 'Māori architecture – whare Māori - First Māori buildings', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 22 July 2024)

Story by Deidre Brown, published 22 Oct 2014