University mourns the loss of Adjunct Professor Rewi Thompson

28 October 2016

Kua hinga te tōtara i te wao nui a Tāne

A great tōtara in the forest of Tāne has fallen

It is with heartfelt sadness that the Faculty of Creative Arts and Industries at the University of Auckland acknowledges the recent passing of Adjunct Professor Rewi Thompson, at his home in Kohimarama.

Professor Rewi Thompson (Ngäti Porou/Ngäti Raukawa) was one of New Zealand’s leading architects and an internationally-renowned indigenous architect.

Raised in Wellington, Rewi began his career in engineering before leaving to study architecture at the University of Auckland, where he completed a Bachelor of Architecture. Following registration he established his own practice in 1983 and quickly rose to prominence.

Rewi, who described his work as focusing on two things – land and people – received dozens of architecture awards for his work, including a UNESCO International Award for a house design for urban Mäori, and numerous New Zealand Institute of Architects awards.

His contribution to architecture included notable projects, across a range of sectors, such as the Mäori Studies facilities at UNITEC and Tairawhiti Polytechnic, innovative residential buildings in Manukau for Housing New Zealand, the redevelopment of the Otara shopping centre, Ruapoutaka Marae in Glen Innes, and Ngäti Otara Marae and Te Rawheoro Marae in Tolaga Bay. He will be, perhaps, best remembered for his own, striking, Kohimarama home, completed in 1985.

He also served as Mäori Design Consultant for new correctional facilities in Ngawha, Meremere and South Auckland, a new hospital in Wellington for Capital Coast Health and for the Mason Clinic extension in Point Chevalier. He brought a culturally-based perspective to each of these projects that reflected his belief that wellbeing could be enhanced through Maori design and connection to the landscape.

In 2002, Thompson was appointed Adjunct Professor at the University of Auckland’s School of Architecture after a number of years acting as a guest critic in studio. As well as teaching he was also responsible for developing an appropriate cultural focus, that he termed ‘Te Pare’ or ‘The Threshold,’ with special concern for the faculty’s Mäori students. In recent years, he developed this pedagogy to respond to the needs of students from other cultural backgrounds who wished to draw on their heritage in their design projects. He also championed the contribution of female students, co-tutors, and practitioners to the study and discipline of architecture.

Rewi adjudicated architecture awards for many years, including the New Zealand Institute of Architects Students Awards and the Auckland Architectural Association Awards.

Haere, haere, haere atu rā.