New Zealand Commercial Project Awards 2022 - Tourism and Leisure Category Gold Award Winner

Rakiura Museum Te Puka O Te Waka speaks to a vessel that holds within it the taonga (treasures of Rakiura/Stewart Island). This rich design narrative is supported by its strong connection with the ocean, maritime history, local iwi, community and environment.

It was a fruitful collaboration that resulted in a building that captures the bicultural history and aspirations of the Stewart Island community. The constrained, wedge-shaped site proved to be a positive influence on the final design which reflects the many wedge-shaped ships that have visited the island with the building’s floating ‘prow’ facing the harbour.

The light-filled space attracts and informs visitors and leads them through to the museum’s immersive exhibition. In the other direction, visitors are led to community and staff spaces where bright, natural light is modified by vertical fins - a nod to the ribs of a whale, and the island’s history of whaling.

Thorough planning, logistical management involving shipping plant, equipment and 300 tonnes of materials from Bluff across Foveaux Straight combined with an unwavering commitment from the onsite and offsite teams ensured the works were completed to a high level of quality and ahead of programme. It is the first civic infrastructure construction on the Island in 18 years.