Mount Ngongotaha Masterplan

Mount Ngongotaha Masterplan

Rotorua, New Zealand

Ngati Whakaue Tribal Lands (NWTL)

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The Brief

We were one of ten international practices invited to submit a proposal for a cultural tourism masterplan for the above client, who owns four substantial landholdings around Lake Rotorua. We won the competition based upon our ‘architectural attitude’ to building in a unique landscape on the side of a sacred mountain (“of the hill, in the hill, above the hill”) and responding to their design drivers “Our People, Our Land, Our Stories”.


Our concept for the masterplan is ‘episodic’ – a series of forms and events (the idea of “shaping”) that are interwoven with the rich narrative of NWTL and their heritage.  The masterplan reaches out to the three most predominant cultural ‘touchstones’ – Mokoia island, the tribal meeting house and Te Puia (a geo-thermal/Māori visitor centre). The orientation and placement of the strategic interventions are informed by these three elements.


The programme includes a contemporary Māori arts centre and theatre, a visitor centre, retail, an activity centre, two hotels, lodges, a Māori innovation centre and a cultural ‘arts trail’. We make contemporary reference to vernacular Māori construction forms, and in particular the use of their oxblood colour and the palisade which represents family (Whānau) and community/the people (Iwi).  


220 Hectares
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