Whare also heads the advanced cultural design unit Te Matakīrea, and talks with us about the power of words, the joys of hiking, and some of his favourite structures.
Kia ora Whare. Could you tell us what a normal day for you looks like at Warren and Mahoney? Otirā, tēnā koe, tēnā tātou. My day is pretty frantic. But I see that as a good problem to have, particularly on a work day where there are design workshops to facilitate almost every day, or the occasional formalities of a whakawhanaungatanga with iwi clients (process of establishing relationships) to host on a project. I feel pretty fulfilled by the end of it.
And what part of the role provides you with that feeling of fulfilment? It’s the people. I see myself as a people person and what makes it all worthwhile is the privilege to engage with so many like-minded people within my team or within a project. “Kia kai a te Rangatira” is a saying that translates to “the sustenance of Chiefs”, meaning words are the staple of our efforts and endeavours. I’m lucky enough to be in position that allows me to learn from all corners of our country and keeps me on my toes.
Warren and Mahoney is again sponsoring the Structure category. What makes you the ideal sponsor? Warren and Mahoney has been long-term contributors and advocates of some of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most iconic buildings and structures. Since the days of Miles Warren and Maurice Mahoney in the 1950s, the practice has promoted a significant journey from modern and brutalist architecture to more prominent uses of timber and sustainable structures today. Given the whakapapa (genealogy) of design portfolio, I would say Warren and Mahoney is an exemplar towards this kaupapa (subject) across our architectural contributors.
Let’s move away from work for a moment: imagine you’ve got a day off to spend in Wellington with no other commitments, what do you do? I think on any given day in Pōneke Wellington, the morning is the best time to experience its natural landscape. My daughter and I enjoy a walk up the greenbelt of Tangi Te Keo (Mount Victoria), and the panorama of our harbours and the Remutaka Ranges never ceases to amaze. If we’re lucky, you can catch a good glimpse of the Kaikoura Ranges across the Strait too. And then, finish off the day with a pot of pasta from 1154 Pastaria on Cuba Street. I live in the cultural heart of the city, Cuba Mall precinct. My arbitrary walks around Cuba Mall or Courteney Place on a Friday or Saturday night, observing the night life with a Gelato is a favourite habit of mine.
Can you give us two of your favourite structures in Wellington? How about one by Warren and Mahoney, and one by another architect(s)? My hotspot at the moment is our own Warren and Mahoney studio on Cable Street, just overlooking the Whare Waka. I love coming to work, because of my place of work. It’s our new digs, and I think the design team (not me) did a superb job in creating a space that feels collegial but with a distinctive style. There’s a lot of the existing timber structure and joinery that was kept and makes all the difference in celebrating the new with the familiar.
The other space that will always have a special place in my heart is Te Herenga Waka marae, at the Kelburn Campus of Te Herenga Waka Victoria University. It’s a true place of reflection, and since my days back in first year study, that place was my place of retreat. I always felt at ease and protected due to its traditional wharenui structure, form and artwork, in the midst of urban Wellington.
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