In recognition of the significance of the new marae to the University community, tikanga advisors were engaged early in the design process to discuss and resolve design issues, guide processes and protocols, develop project narratives and to support engagements with King Tūheitia, extending to the leads, advisors, artists and carvers of Waikato and the Kīngitanga.
At the focal point of the marae, the wharenui generates the distinctive form of the project; a large roof below which are gathered a central student hub, a wing for the university executive leadership team, and Te Pua Wānanga ki te Ao: Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Studies. In addition to these key areas conference facilities, workspaces, learning and support areas are all organised around the highly adaptable social hub which offers both indoor and outdoor spaces as part of a new campus heart.
Located on the ridge at the top of Hillcrest Road, The Pā will provide a new point of arrival and welcome to the campus. A series of integrated cultural artworks, located throughout the project, will weave a rich narrative that speaks of the unique history, heritage and mana of Waikato and the Kīngitanga, and that extends to acknowledge the cultural and ethnic vibrancy and diversity of the wider community.
With the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Te Puhi Ariki Ngāwai hono i te po Paki as guests of honour, the ground breaking ceremony was held in October 2019 and included the embedding of a whatu, a mauri stone, which symbolises the beating heart of the new university marae and the broader complex of The Pā.