Fale Malae waterfront design takes shape

The design, a collaboration between Jasmax, Dr Albert Refiti, Associate Professor at AUT and Director of Research in the field of Spatial and Architectural Environments of the Pacific, and artist Michel Tuffery, represents a significant step forward in the Fale Malae Trust’s plans to create a cultural landmark within the capital’s Frank Kitts Park.

Elisapeta Heta, Director and Kaihautū Whaihanga at Jasmax, says the Fale Malae “will hold the Pasifika people, tangata moana, at its heart, but will be for all people of Whanganui-a-Tara, Aotearoa and our moana nui” .

The sculptural form of the roof articulates two joined hands, like those of a dancer of the tau’olunga – the last dance of the Pacific Moana Nui ceremonies. “It symbolizes the important relationship between Aotearoa and tangata moana,” Heta explains. “It also represents the meeting of tangata whenua and tangata moana, represented by the mirrored roof forms designed to protect and provide shelter.”

The sculptural roof is an abstract representation of two joined hands like those of a tau’olunga dancer. Picture:


Fale Male Trust Chairman Adrian Orr said the venue will provide an internationally significant space in which to celebrate New Zealand’s peaceful identity through arts, culture, economic development and education. “The design is a contemporary expression of thousands of years of rich architectural history and will be a fitting tribute to the nation,” he said.

The proposed site, opposite Whairepo Lagoon, currently houses an earthquake-prone underground car park, slated for demolition.

Orr acknowledges the seismic issues that will need to be overcome when constructing the site, but says the Trust has the engineering expertise to overcome these issues.

The project will be funded by a $10 million contribution from central government, a $10 million contribution from Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington, a land contribution from Wellington City Council and funds raised by the Fale Malae Trust.

In September 2021, Wellington City Council approved, in principle, further investigation into the Fale Malae at Frank Kitts Park; he would be seated next to the charity’s Chinese garden project. The Trust now plans to proceed with public consultation, resource consent and community fundraising.

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