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Tūhoe’s Living Building: One of NZ’s revolutionary buildings

Tūhoe’s Living Building
One of NZ’s most revolutionary buildings

Natural Habitats are proud to be the landscapers of New Zealand’s most advanced sustainable building: Te Wharehou o Tūhoe in Taneatua, near Whakatane, which opened March 8, 2014.

The new Tūhoe headquarters, designed by Jasmax’s Jerome Partington, to have zero environmental impact, be integrated into its surrounding landscape and to give back to the world around it.

All the native plants Natural Habitats planted in the gardens around the building were designed to be a sensory learning experience with touch, colour and smell. A large amphitheatre facing the headquarters also used 6600m2 of turf.

Michael Pritchard, Project Supervisor for Natural Habitats, said the experience was incredibly humbling and unique.

“I was quickly accepted as part of the family. Main roles aside, everyone mucked in to get the building open. I had builders moving mulch for me. I had a team of 20 for 3 weeks doing the landscaping, general tidying and site clearance. I will always remember the project for its Community.”

The Tūhoe headquarters has been built in accordance with the rigorous North American Living Building Challenge. The building is to exist ‘off the grid’, importing no power, water and exporting no waste. It will be an enclosed ecosystem built largely by local workforce from renewable, non-toxic local materials.

Following stringent guidelines set down by the International Living Futures Institute, the process of designing, building and operating the finished building must be considered sustainable across seven performance areas: site, water, energy, health, materials, equity and beauty. It is triple Net Zero for energy, water and waste.

Guideline also demand the building be totally removable when it comes to the end of its planned life, about 251 years from now.

Tūhoe Chairman Tamati Kruger said the decision to build the iwi’s new headquarters to such tough environmental standards reflects the environmental values of the Tūhoe people.

“Though the cost may be higher initially, over the years the building will more than pay for itself. We hope it’s something that all the people of the Whakatane district will be proud of and will use as their own.”

In approximately 12 months’ time, the Tūhoe will learn whether their new building will be the first Living Building in New Zealand.


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