Calls for more multicultural flavour in Community Hub design

3 minutes read
Posted 13 November, 2023
Render looking towards Building A

Concerns that initial concept designs for the new $50m Whakatipu Community Hub don’t truly reflect Queenstown’s cultural heritage and multicultural make-up have been “really disappointing” for the Community Hub Trust, but are being taken seriously.

Social media criticism of some initial designs released by Lakes Weekly Bulletin last week labelled the Auckland Wingate Architect’s designs for the proposed five-building complex at Frankton as “boring” and not reflective of the cultural make-up of “beautiful Tahuna”.

Trustee Alexa Forbes says people’s concerns will be taken “really seriously”. “We will be considering what they’re saying and taking any criticism on board,” she says.

Calls for the designs to be more reflective of Tangata Whenua and “our beautiful diverse culture” have prompted a meeting with award-winning local Maori hospitality businesswoman and watchdog Karen Hattaway and a trust representative. Hattaway and local kaumatua Hud Rapata are among those airing concerns about the design online.

“It’s a fantastic initiative, but I feel we can do better with the design to truly reflect our beautiful Tahuna,” Hattaway says. While funding is always a priority, she’d like to see talented local architects drawn into the process to contribute their ideas. “We’ve got a really wonderful opportunity to reflect all of the personalities, cultures and nationalities that make Queenstown their home and I don’t know that that’s been reflective in the design,” she says. “We have so many long-standing, very international locals. We should really be going out to all corners of the community so that everyone can be proud of this.”

Hattaway says she’s been approached by the trust founder to meet. “I’m looking forward to a wonderful conversation with her to understand exactly what the situation is.”

“Maybe when we talk with the hub trust we will understand, but we may all be raising more money to ensure this reflects our own beautiful community, not just Maori, but everybody,” says Hattaway, herself a conceptual designer. “Ours is probably the most diverse community in New Zealand. We can do better. We have some amazing architects in town. We need their ideas.”

She’s suggesting weaved tukutuku panels representing each culture in the community, each telling their own story. “I’m so excited about this and I believe we can do it at a reasonable price, reaching out to amazing local artists who may want to contribute. “When we all have threads suddenly it all becomes our coat. If we all join together we can come up with something very special.”

“I’m definitely not against them. It’s a wonderful idea and fantastic that they’re moving forward, but let’s not miss this opportunity,” Hattaway says. “This is a very important venue and needs to reflect our community. It needs to be memorable, leaving a legacy for our children.”

Whakatipu Community Hub Charitable Trust chair Hamish Wilton says the architect, David Wingate, has designed several similar community hubs around NZ. “They’re all incredibly successful,” he says. “He’s designed a lot of other civic and community buildings in NZ. This is not his first rodeo.”

There are up to 17 potential occupiers interested in taking space in the new hub behind Countdown and Wilton says all have been involved in the preliminary design process. The courtyard incorporates considerable cultural design aspects. The trust has been consulting with Hokonui Runanga, Terry Nicholas, to ensure strong Maori influence in the landscape design. Trustees will hold a workshop with local cultural interests and the hub designer to discuss design aspects also. Wilton says it will be easier to make judgement once people have seen the whole design. “The design team is very well versed in community hubs.” “I don’t think it’s relevant where the design team comes from, but local input is always welcomed,” he says. The building is very functional internally and Wilton says people are entitled to their view.


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