Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga, Archives New Zealand

February 27, 2022

RCP are engaged to provide project management services across design and delivery for this landmark Wellington project. We are especially privileged to be working alongside Te Rūnanganui o Te Āti Awa representatives, design agency, Tihei, and the design team at Warren and Mahoney to manage the co-design of this building, connecting the building to the whenua it sits on and acknowledging the people that lived here before. 

Due to open in 2026, the new national archives facility will be built in Wellington to house the country’s rapidly growing archival collections. It will be located on the site that formerly held Defence House, which was demolished after the 7.8-magnitude Kaikōura earthquake of 2016. 

The $290 million state-of-the-art national facility will house the country’s rapidly growing archival collections. It will also feature additional seminar and meeting rooms, secure loading and quarantine areas, state-of-the-art repositories and shelving, audio visual and film suites and conservation and digitisation facilities. The facility will ensure archives are kept in the most modern facilities for conservation and care.  

The building will have a minimum 4 Green Star rating and will boast one of the highest performing façades in the country, minimising the energy required to maintain repository conditions and ensuring collections remain protected even in the event power is lost to the building.  

The design has been created with a te ao Māori world view, with Taranaki Whānui Te Āti Awa delegates and design agency Tīhei working alongside architects Warren and Mahoney to connect the building to the whenua (land) it sits on and acknowledge the tūpuna who lived there before.  

Renowned Māori sculptural artist Rangi Kipa, who worked on its design, said  

With the building located on part of the original Pipitea Pā whenua, it was designed so that when people enter the building, they will feel a sense of walking down into the whenua. In the plaza, there will be references to the original pipi beds, gardens and kumara mounds. On the building façade, the names of Te Āti Awa hapū and references to their mana i te whenua will be placed facing Parliament. 

The building will be one of Aotearoa’s most seismically resilient. Base isolation means the building will be able to remain safe and fully operational after a major earthquake. By designing a seismic solution that exceeds the New Building Standard (150%), provides the new national archives facility with additional seismic protection which dramatically reduces the chances of damage during a seismic event, significantly reducing the need for repairs, reinstatement and/or demolition and rebuild, optimising public value. 

To see a short documentary on the project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9bOk597GKI