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Awards recognise New Zealand’s women architects

Media release: 30 September

Awards recognise New Zealand’s women architects

Three architects have been acknowledged in the inaugural Architecture+Women:NZ Awards, a programme set up to celebrate the oft-overlooked contribution of women to the New Zealand building industry.

Wellington architect Cecile Bonnifait won the Wirihana Emerging Leadership Award, Australian-based New Zealand architectural researchers Justine Clark and Gill Matthewson won the Munro Diversity Award, and Auckland architect Julie Stout won the Chrystall Excellence Award.

The Awards are an initiative of Architecture+Women: NZ, a 500-strong organisation established in 2011 to raise the visibility of women in the architecture profession.

“Women architects have struggled to achieve professional recognition,” says A+W:NZ Awards organiser Megan Rule. “It has been difficult for women to reconcile family commitments and career advancement within the traditional hierarchical structure of the architectural firm.”

“This means that women architects have often had unorthodox or interrupted careers, and their contributions have been insufficiently acknowledged.”

Rule says the career progress of women is still a big challenge to the architecture profession.

“Half of the graduates at New Zealand’s architecture schools are women, but very few of the large New Zealand architecture firms have any women partners. Establishing career paths for talented young women is one of the biggest challenges for architecture in New Zealand.”

“One of the main goals of Architecture + Women and progammes like the new A+W:NZ Awards is to achieve inclusive and equitable work environments.”

Rule says the initial A+W:NZ Awards, which were judged by Yale University professor Peggy Deamer, Auckland University Architecture School associate head Bill McKay, and Auckland architects Jo Aitken and Elizabeth Seuseu, attracted a strong list of entries.

The contenders for the Wirihana Emerging Leadership Award included architects Andrea Bell, Maggie Carroll, Marianne Riley and architectural graduate Sarah Gilberston. The candidates for the Munro Diversity Award included Auckland firm Architecture Smith + Scully, London-based New Zealand architect Amanda Reynolds, Wellington firm Studio Pacific Architecture, and the pioneering Auckland practice support group, the Thursday Lunch Group.

The Chrystall Excellence Award shortlist included architect Min Hall, now based in Auckland after many years of practice in Nelson, Wellington architect Gina Jones, Auckland architect Lindy Leuschke, and Wanaka architect Sarah Scott.

The Awards are named for women who have had a considerable influence on New Zealand architecture. Moana Wirihana, for whom the Emerging Leadership Award is named, was a respected community leader who contributed to architecture through her involvement in the commissioning of several significant whare nui.

Margaret Munro, for whom the Diversity Award is named, had a long and distinguished career as an architect in Christchurch.

Lillian Chrystall, who lent her name to the Excellence Award, practiced architecture continuously for 60 years, initially in London and Paris, and in Auckland from the 1950s to 2012.

For more information about Architecture +Women go to the Architecture+Women: NZ website:


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