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Value of Pacific architecture asserted

10 August 2004

Value of Pacific architecture asserted

Traditional and contemporary architecture within Pacific nations such as New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Tonga and Australia has often been overlooked by educational institutes, in favour of teaching European practices.

That’s according to Professor Gordon Holden, Head of Victoria University’s School of Architecture, who has instigated the first ever Pacific Architecture Colloquium, to be held on Friday 20 August.

Professor Holden says the seminar, in combination with a new undergraduate course dedicated to Pacific architecture, is an attempt to heighten the awareness and importance of this genre.

“New Zealand is a multicultural country but the tradition has been, in universities, to teach mainly European architectural traditions. It’s now high time that we recognise the significance of the architectural achievements of Mâori and other Pacific groups - these are considerable and continue to influence our culture and lifestyles today.”

“We need to encourage our future architects and designers to engage with Pacific cultures and their needs and approach projects from a diverse background.”

Experts from around the Pacific will present papers on architectural and design traditions and the challenges of culture and change. Topics include Mâori architectural beginnings, traditional architecture in Tonga, Aboriginal Australia and Papua New Guinea, and the influence of French architecture on the Pacific.

Professor Holden says this is the first time, internationally, such an event has been held and the line-up of speakers is impressive.

“The School has put together a very distinguished, very powerful group of speakers – invited for their specialised knowledge of Pacific Architecture. Those attending the colloquium, including the School’s own Pacific Architecture class, will receive highest possible level of up-to-date knowledge in this area.

“The keynote speaker Professor Mike Austin, from Unitec Auckland, is an influential Pacific Architecture researcher, and Professor Jennifer Taylor, from the Queensland University of Technology, has contributed Pacific Architecture entries to major texts and is preparing new material from recent research”.

The material discussed at colloquium will appeal to a wide variety of professions, including architects, designers, anthropologists, social scientists and policy makers.

The School is in discussion with a publisher regarding the production of a book based on the material presented. This book would be used as a teaching resource both nationally and internationally.

Media are invited to attend the Pacific Architecture Colloquium, to be held at the Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa, on Friday 20 August from 8am to 5.30pm. Please RSVP to or phone 04 463 6120. The full programme can be found at


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