21 Apr 2017

Can you re-Māorify a city?

From Nine To Noon, 9:41 am on 21 April 2017

Māori culture and values have often been sidelined in the construction of New Zealand towns and cities, but what if that wasn't the case?

A new urban design competition is calling on the public to imagine what a decolonised city might be like.

Victoria University lecturer Amanda Thomas says that while we know that our cities are indigenous Māori places, you often have to be wearing X-ray goggles to see that.

"We're really interested to know if we were to unpick those layers of colonisation or layer over, re-Māorify, as Moana Jackson says – what might that look like and what are the exciting opportunities for that."

Education project coordinator Bianca Elkington sees the project as an opportunity to expose young people to Māori academics and see differently the space they live in.

While urban design competitions are usually aimed at professionals, the organisers believe everyone can have a hand in decolonisation.

"We think that everyday New Zealanders are actually the experts in what our cities look like, could be, could feel like, smell like..." Thomas says.

The competition focuses on two sites in Porirua – the Onepoto arm of the Porirua Harbour (itself a significant historical site for Māori and for many generations the main source of food) and the location of a papakainga (ancestral home) overlooking the harbour, which is owned by a Ngāti Toa whanau.

The Imagining Decolonised Cities competition is presented by Victoria University of Wellington in collaboration with Ngāti Toa.

It is part of a wider Victoria University research project which looks at what decolonisation means to New Zealanders in relation to how cities look and feel.

Individuals or teams (with up to four members) of all ages are welcome to enter. Submissions close on 9 May.