Connecting the land, the sea and our people

Te Wharekura is the name gifted to a Category B building, formerly the ‘Western Kiosk’, which sits adjacent to the city’s ferry wharves. Te Wharekura connects the land, people and waterways of Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland.

The redevelopment of the heritage site into a semi-permanent interactive exhibition continues the re-indigenisation of the country’s largest city, by expressing the ahi kā status of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei. It also engages all visitors with marine and forest conservation in the harbour and its outer islands.

Gibson International was invited by Te Kaunihera o Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland Council to conceptualise and deliver the project through a co-design process with the tribe, and finally physical installation in collaboration with the council and Heritage New Zealand.

Our role

  • Stakeholder and cultural engagement
  • Experience design
  • Interpretive design/content
  • Fabrication and installation
  • Ongoing support and maintenance

To be entwined with the environment

Focused on improving the ecological health of the coastal and marine environment – ‘ki uta, ki tai’, Te Wharekura offers an educational and interactive experience, personalised in the hosting of kaimanaaki from the tribe.

It encourages exploration and participation, whether as a descendent of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, resident of the city or visitor to the country.

Positioned overhead of the exhibit is a large takarangi installation, the double spiral, which represents interconnectedness of the past and future, in its simultaneous forwards and backwards movement.

The Ahi Kā interactive screen describes the history of the tribe and draws visitors into their sites and spiritual connections to sites in the harbour area through a digital ‘home fire’ interactive. It is surrounded by cases that house treasured instruments and objects, which are also heard in the immersive soundtrack.

The vital importance of our ecosystems, expressed in the phrase ‘kia tawhiwhi ki ngā atua’ (be entwined with the gods of the environment) are explored through touch screens. This multimedia installation, Ki Uta Ki Ta, is augmented with a child-focussed interactive based on animal designs from artist Graham Tipene.

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