Kathryn speaks with Ana Heremaia, Felicity Brenchley and Jo Walsh from ĀKAU studio in Kaikohe, in the Far North.
They have designed marae, learning centres, civic spaces and housing developments in the region.
But ĀKAU Studio is far more than an architecture practice.
They also have a design school for rangitahi that takes them through NZQA accredited courses to Level 3.
Since they founded the studio nearly a decade ago, their mission has been to do something about the high rates of truancy, drug and alcohol abuse, youth offending and high unemployment in the Far North.
ĀKAU Studio has just won this year's Institute of Architects' John Sutherland Practice Award.