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A Māori health provider has received an award for the redesign of its office.

Alualumoana Luaitalo

The refurbished offices of Ngāti Hine Trust wins a Bronze Pin

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

A Māori health provider has received an award for the redesign of its office.

Ngāti Hine Trust’s office in Whangārei received the coveted Bronze Pin at the 2023 Designers Institute of New Zealand Designer Awards and has also been nominated as a finalist in the 2023 Interior Awards.

Ngāti Hine Health Trust is one the largest Māori health providers in Northland and for 30-plus years has established itself as a leader in the delivery of hauora me te oranga (health and wellbeing) services within Te Tai Tokerau (The North Coast).

Their collaboration with Studio DB as a workplace strategy and design specialist began after the Trust’s Torongare offices were identified as limiting staff’s ability to meet with clients.

Geoff Milner, Ngāti Hine Health CEO says that when they engaged with Studio DB, they shared a vision of utilisation of space on the ground floor.

“And out of that vision, we worked together on that plan,” Milner said.

“One of the key bits and what we really liked about Studio DB was their willingness to engage with other artists and cultural people to bring that vision to light.”

Milner also says that the vision looks exactly like what they planned a year before and that vision is ultimately what has led the plan to the whānau hub he is standing in.

Ngāti Hine Health Trust CEO Geoff Milner. Photo / Michael Cunningham

He said their Torongare offices lacked flow and space limiting their ability to provide enough dedicated spaces for kaimahi (employee, worker) to meet with whānau.

Studio DB, formerly known as DB Interiors, have their origins in Whangārei and headquarters in Auckland and have been in business for 50 years.

A family-owned business through three generations, their initial focus was commercial and residential construction before establishing an office and shop interior division in the early 1990s.

Senior designer, Brooke Costello, says it was quite cool that they could really take it to a blank canvas and then for them to treat it, so it was about 1000 square metres that ground floor.

Costello says that working with the local Māori artists was a highlight for her.

“Yeah, I think it probably was that collaboration with the artists and the suppliers to create those bespoke kind of features for the space.

“So that really close kind of connection there, and I think that’s quite unique in itself.”

Costello says that to be recognized as one of the top projects is truly an honour.

“So I guess the best design awards are one of the most prestigious award programs for the design industry in New Zealand.

“To have this result is really amazing in our first year as well.”

The Best Design Awards is an annual showcase of excellence in graphic, spatial, product, digital and motion design along with three special awards - Value of Design, Public Good and Toitanga.

She also says that the level one offices had really outgrown the space and the staff or admin services in that space were also combining their other services in that same space.

“So it was just really inefficient use of space.

“And so this vision of transforming the lower level of that building, because they own the full building.”

The collaboration between Ngāti Hine Trust and Studio DB is a winner. Photo / Supplied

The brief was to create a warm and inviting environment that makes whānau feel comfortable and welcomed, the brief was to create a “whānau centre” on the lower level of their existing offices.

Criteria were put in place to meet the brief with the following objectives such as providing spaces for their various whānau ora services, having a large hui (meeting) place for hosting suitable events, pōwhiri and welcoming dignitaries as well as creating a space that reflects the origins and stories of the Ngāti Hine role.

Former and current NorthTec students, who designed the artwork for the dedicated space for staff to help ground themselves, came together to work on this project also.

Te Hemo Ata Henare (Ngāpuhi-nui-tonu, Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Kahu) who is based in Moerewa says she was “born and bred in the rohe” (home territory of a particular tribe/iwi).

“Colour was important and key to things within the space.

“In fact, it was key to things flowing, one of the key elements to the work flowing within the space.”

The feedback is that the fundamental thoughts and values that informed the project have created powerful shifts in the new space.

Positive reactions from the kaimahi after feeling at ease in the rohe and could feel and see the collaboration and wairua (spirit or heart) that went into creating it.

The feedback is that the fundamental thoughts and values that informed the project have created powerful shifts in the new space.

Curved walls, screens, and flooring patterns were used to soften rooms and emulate the natural flows of the Taumarere awa (river), creating a welcoming and soothing environment.

The whānau centre incorporates various commissioned art pieces that local Māori artists created through a collaborative process with kaumātua and the interior designer.

A focus on aligning the colours and patterns of the art with the interior design enabled a cohesive design that seamlessly blends culture, art, and interior architecture.

Hero image: Ngāti Hine's award winning office space. Photo / Supplied

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