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Banner image containing 3 taiaha (traditional wooden Maori weapons). Text says: Transcolonisation: Imaging the future built environment of Aotearoa NZ.

Fast Forward lecture series – Autumn 2021

Transcolonisation: Imagining the future built environment of Aotearoa NZ.

This lecture series is culturated by Professor Anthony Hoete and fast forwards Aotearoa from the time of Te Ao Māori Tawhito to a place of: Transcolonisation. We will ask our presenters, who are effectively indigenous researchers, to reveal how mātauranga and tikanga, that is Māori knowledge and an indigenous way of doing things, can positively transform society.

How can the ritual of pōwhiri whereby Māori greet their whare tipuna, or ancestral houses, by talking to them directly propel a narrative architecture such that the stories, secrets, and myths that lie within buildings create a ‘sense of place’? If recent laws have been passed in Aotearoa that offer legal personality to natural features (regions, rivers, and mountains) that are important for Māori, then why afford the same value to whare tipuna? Or other buildings which we hold dearest? How has the effect of colonisation transformed traditional Māori art from a supposed practical and spiritual purpose to its contemporary manifestation as being innately political? How are the resulting artworks, many of which are hybridised, challenging identity and how might this reconfiguration stimulate our cities and built environment to aspire to look less quasi-colonial and feel more ‘sites pacific’? To embrace those with Polynesia and South East Asian origins? And shelter is only one-half of our primordial concerns – what about food? How might indigenous knowledge and ways transform how we grow, what we eat, and where we eat in the modern city? If mātauranga offers insight into foods, plants, forests, building materials, and other resources how can this deep understanding of the natural world recentralise taiao, the earth, sky, and the air, to rejuvenate better management of the environment? Trans/colonisation is the transformative indigenous project. 

About Fast Forward

Fast Forward is the School of Architecture and Planning’s biannual lecture series. It aims to foster debate, discussion and development within the disciplines of architecture, urban design and urban planning. A well-known and respected event in the community, Fast Forward is generously sponsored by GIB® and supported by Te Kāhui Whaihanga New Zealand Institute of Architects. 10 NZRAB CPD points are available at each lecture.

Fast Forward is made possible through the generous support of GIB®

Webinar Two – Legal personhood in the building, marae and heritage conservation worlds

Wednesday 21 April, 6.30pm


In the second of the >>FFWD21 Transcolonisation series, Professor Jacinta Ruru talks about how in Aotearoa NZ, landscape features have assumed the status of people. We already anthropomorphize the landscape when we talk about a body of water, a headland, the mouth of the river.

With the recital of pepeha, Māori embed the environment into their identity. The transition to a Te Ao Māori view whereby ‘I am the river, and the river is me’ was fundamental to creating the innovative Te Urewera Act – a global first. With this Act, our government gave up ownership, and the land became a legal entity with all the rights, powers, duties, and liabilities of a legal person. This was a profound alternative to the human presumption of sovereignty over the natural world.

Personhood also confers environmental protection such that a legal claim for harm can be brought on behalf of the land itself rather than by a person. By giving landscape features legal personhood, how could this be a game-changer for the built environment?

Professor Jacinta Ruru:

Professor Jacinta Ruru is the co-director of Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga and the first Māori Professor of Law. She is of Raukawa, Ngāti Ranginui and Ngāti Maniapoto descent. After a 2012 Fulbright-funded PhD at the University of Victoria in Canada, Ruru returned to New Zealand and the University of Otago, rising to full professor in 2016.

Ruru’s research centres on indigenous peoples’ (primarily Māori in New Zealand and First Nations in Canada) legal relations with land and water.

In addition to winning the Prime Minister’s supreme award for tertiary teaching, Ruru has also been made a Fellow of the Royal Society Te Apārangi. In October 2019, Ruru was appointed one of seven inaugural sesquicentennial distinguished chairs, or poutoko taiea, at Otago University.

Photo courtesy of TEDxChristchurch

Jacinta Ruru speaking at a podium

Full programme for the Fast Forward – Autumn 2021 lecture series to be announced soon!


Fast Forward Autumn 2020 saw local and international experts in the field discussing the theme: Addressing Urban Growth. 
Catch up on the lecture recordings below.

A webinar with Phil Twyford

A webinar with Julie Anne Genter

Stay up to date with the Faculty of Creative Arts and Industries

Explore our study options at the School of Architecture and Planning

Header image of the three taiaha is courtesy of Anthony Hoete.