May 7, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

Exchanging ideas on Indigenous experiences

2 min read
The University of Queensland (UQ) and The University of Auckland architecture students have gained deep insights into the unique issues of Indigenous people in Australia and New Zealand thanks to a new exchange program.

Program coordinator Kelly Greenop said the exchange was established to allow students to undertake a comparative study of cultural landscapes and Indigenous issues in Auckland and Brisbane.

The program officially commenced in March when Ms Greenop and three UQ Masters students travelled to Auckland, and six University of Auckland students and Maori architect Rewi Thompson visited UQ.

Students benefited from meeting Maori and Aboriginal people and hearing about the places which matter to them and how they interact with the contemporary urban landscape, Ms Greenop said.
UQ students visited the University of Auckland Marae, a Maori meeting house, and were shown a volcanic cone, used as a Maori Pa (fortified village) and learned about the architectural and cultural significance of these cone sites which lie within Auckland’s urban fabric.

In Brisbane, New Zealand students heard guest speakers on homeless issues including local architect Kevin Hayes, who has designed a large new centre for homeless people in Brisbane incorporating their unique needs and design issues, as well as talks from local Indigenous Elders about the history and importance of Indigenous culture in contemporary urban Brisbane.

One focus for students in this subject is urban Indigenous homelessness. In Auckland, approximately 80 percent of homeless people are Maori, mirroring similar homelessness issues for Indigenous peoples in Australia, Ms Greenop said.

UQ students visited the Auckland City Mission which is planning a multi-million dollar building to accommodate homeless people in the centre of Auckland.

The new City Mission development, designed by Maori architect Rewi Thompson, includes aspects of inclusion for Maori within the city, something students are hoping to learn about in their own research.

Our students are preparing research reports and sketch designs for their own interventions to alleviate the problems associated with homelessness: difficulty in accessing bathing facilities, storage and safe sleeping locations.

Ms Greenop said some UQ Masters students were unable to make the trip to Auckland, however she kept students back in Brisbane engaged through a blog and Skype sessions.

The program is being run by the Aboriginal Environments Research Centre, within UQ’s School of Architecture.

An earlier exchange was initiated by the Centre’s Director, Professor Paul Memmott, in 2006, and a Memorandum of Agreement has since been signed by the two Schools, each of which have strong Indigenous interests, to keep such exchanges recurring.

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