Museum of water: How can a water museum articulate New Zealand's tangible and intangible connection to water?
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Citation:Shiblaq, K. (2021). Museum of water: How can a water museum articulate New Zealand’s tangible and intangible connection to water? (Unpublished document submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Architecture (Professional)). Unitec Institute of Technology, New Zealand. https://hdl.handle.net/10652/5544
Permanent link to Research Bank record:https://hdl.handle.net/10652/5544
This project explores the design of Aotearoa's first water museum located along Te Awa Tupua (The Whanganui River), the first river in the world to be granted personhood status. The museum will help preserve and showcase the tangible and intangible aspects of Te Awa Tupua – while symbolically remembering its history of colonial transgressions. A whakatauki among the people of Whanganui, ‘Ko au te awa. Ko te awa ko au – I am the river. The river is me’ reverberates the level of empathy and connection these people feel towards their river. The strength, spirit and identity of Whanganui Iwi all stem from the river. The research uses New Zealand's ongoing freshwater crisis to call for more honest public education and engagement with mātauranga Māori – helping aid the struggle towards a broader cultural shift inspired by Wairuatanga. The research benefited tremendously from the richness of pūrākau and whakapapa. This research attempts to rationalise the whakapapa of freshwater and use it as an anchor to the intangible aspects of wai. A pivotal part of this project relies on identifying a set of relevant principles that can instruct the design process—essentially giving a structure to the project's rationale. Principles from Te Awa Tupua, Te Aranga Māori, and Swiss architect Peter Zumthor are superimposed to guide the design process. The design process began with a trip down the rivers waters. The three-day canoe trip through the Whanganui National Park's isolated depths heavily impacted the museum's experiential design. Whanganui Māori would use fishing structures called Pā tuna, Pā Piharu, and Tararua for fishing Tuna and Piharu – upon the arrival of the early European settler, these structures were destroyed to make way for the steamboat travel. The project seeks to commemorate these destroyed fishing weirs; Matia (stakes in weir fences) inspire the museum's structure as it sits on burnt wooden columns. The museum orientates itself towards Matua Te Toa Tongariro (Mount Tongariro) and Te Tai-o-Rēhua (Tasman Sea) – referencing the idea that Te Awa Tupua is an indivisible and living whole from the mountain to the sea.