Measina o Samoa : preserving the treasures of Samoa

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Mataia, Venus
Author ORCID Profiles (clickable)
Master of Architecture (Professional)
Unitec Institute of Technology
Schnoor, Christoph
Hoskins, Raoul
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
Apia (Samoa)
waterfront redevelopment
museum design
museum architecture
architecture and culture
cultural identity
ie tōga (Samoan fine 'mat')
siapo (Samoan art form)
tapa cloth
Samoan architecture
Mataia, V. (2019). Measina o Samoa : preserving the treasures of Samoa. (Unpublished document submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Architecture (Professional)). Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand. Retrieved from
RESEARCH QUESTION: How can contemporary architecture preserve and celebrate Samoan cultural identity? ABSTRACT: The arrival of the first settlers in the late 1760s ignited the influx of foreign cultures to Samoa, resulting in the colonisation and the loss of traditional knowledge and culture. Its effects on the nation today are evident within the architecture of Samoa and the relevance of cultural traditions. The introduction of new materials and tools, as well as globalisation, have shaped the traditional art forms and their relevance within modern-day society. The demand for certain art forms, including siapo, has decreased over the years with the ie toga remaining prominent within Samoan customs. The traditional knowledge associated with Samoan culture has been passed on to future generations, through oral tradition. The result of foreign influences has impacted this form of communication and has lead to the loss of cultural heritage. Foreigners brought their architectural styles to Samoa impacting the previous aesthetics of the country. The influence of foreign styles replaced traditional vernacular architecture of Samoa, resulting in a lack of Samoan culture. An example of this is the current museum of Samoa. Although its intention is to preserve the intangible culture of Samoa, the museum itself, which was previously a German school, is of colonial style. Traditional knowledge is in danger of becoming extinct and the Samoan landscape is becoming more vulnerable. This calls for a new method that helps to return the previous vernacular architecture. This research project refers to traditional Samoan culture and heritage to influence the design of a new museum. The museum’s intention is to preserve the traditional knowledge and customs of Samoa that are at risk, while celebrating both its tangible and intangible material culture
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