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Tennent Brown architects Hugh Tennent (far left) and Brenda Solon (far right) met with members from the parish and Ngāti Te Whiti hapū on site recently as part of the planning process.
Wellington firm Tennent Brown Architects have been chosen to help give form to plans for peace and reconciliation at Taranaki Cathedral.
Their appointment comes as momentum behind The Cathedral Project – A Taranaki Taonga project builds and preparations for a major community fundraiser continue.
Fundraising for the $15m project is well advanced but more money must be raised before physical work begins. Earthquake strengthening and upgrading the historic stone church, the oldest in New Zealand is at the heart of the plan. Another important strand is developing the heritage site into a centre of peace, reconciliation and bicultural partnership - while also creating a significant tourism hub.
Tennent Brown Architects has significant experience designing projects across cultures and working with educational, reflective and religious spaces. Among their recently completed major commissions was the Te Wharehou o Waikaremoana at Lake Waikaremoana and Te Ara a Tāwhaki at Te Wānanga o Raukawa at Otaki. They are currently engaged working on various projects with the Anglican church in Christchurch.
Hugh Tennent, who oversees the design direction for major projects at Tennent Brown Architects said they were excited to work with the project as it combined elements of spiritual spaces and Te Ao Māori (the Māori world). The project, and other cross-cultural initiatives were an “extraordinarily important” for the country as they give from to the bicultural foundations of Aotearoa.
“They are the physical expression of honouring the Treaty and being prepared to look back and be transparent around the history,” he said.
Tennent said their design work would also focus on the site itself as well as the remarkable existing heritage buildings. The design would explore the connection with the mountain and the sea and respect the long history of the area.
“It’s also about the whenua, the land, we want to make paths and places both meaningful for Māori and the Church.”
Archbishop Philip Richardson said the appointment of Tennent Brown Architects was an important step forward for the project.
“Tennent Brown impressed the selection panel with the breadth of their portfolio and their track record of innovative culturally expressive designs. They asked us all the right questions, challenging our thinking and enlarging our vision.”
Ngāti Te Whiti hapū chair Trenton Martin, who is a member of the Cathedral Project Governance Group said he was excited at the prospect of what lay ahead.
“We see it as an important forum to tell our mana whenua stories and histories and one of the strengths of this project is the cooperative, bicultural approach being taken. As a hapū we have welcomed the chance to be involved at an early stage of the project and see it as an important recognition of our status in the rohe. This is where we practice partnership.”
The development of a Memorandum of Understanding with the hapū which is underway was another important step, he said.
Project Manager Jenny Goddard said the architect would be briefed fully over the coming weeks and it was expected concept drawings for the development would be delivered in May. These would provide a new level of detail which would help enormously with promotion and further fundraising.
Fundraising for the project continues in a number of areas, with the next major fundraising event The Great Collectables Road Show and Auction being held at the Plymouth Hotel on Friday May 3.