Life, Death and Rebirth : The Arrival, The Liminal, and The Spirit

2021, Advanced Design 2

This project aims to provide a space that embodies indigenous Polynesian identities to essentially establish a place to stand for the people. The narrative revolves around the cyclic rhythm of Life, Death and Rebirth – expressed in the ideas of the Arrival, the Liminal and the Spirit.

The “Life” space aims to communicate the story of the Polynesian arrival in Aotearoa with reference to the double hulled waka that they used to navigate upon their arrival to this land. The roof is a metaphorical representation of the idea of an upturned waka to showcase their settlement on this land. 

With beliefs of the afterlife, death is seen as a transition from one state to another – a threshold between life and rebirth. The “Death” space is an underground liminal space for a memorial / exhibition with three spaces allocated for the three local iwis. The space is reminiscent of a cave to communicate the story of the volcanic caves that were burnt in Ihumatao during the colonisation period. Additionally, in Maori death customs, sometimes they seek for causes of illnesses and deaths in which a person needs to be purified in order to heal. The water feature in this space is a representation of this custom – a symbolism of spiritual cleansing. 

The “Rebirth” space is a decolonising gesture – a break from the increasing urbanisation in Tamaki Makaurau. The purpose of this is to provide a space where the people can reawaken their inner Polynesian spirit and focus on a relationship central to their indigenous identity – which is their belongingness to the land, the sky, and the ocean.