The Pā in Hamilton lauded for its cultural and community credentials


Auckland, 14 June 2024: The Pā at The University of Waikato’s Hillcrest campus in Hamilton is a standout example of a building deeply rooted in local culture and designed to bring the community together. It was named this year’s winner of the Colliers Project Leaders Education Property Award at the 2024 Property Council New Zealand Rider Levett Bucknall Property Industry Awards tonight at the ceremony in Auckland.

The Pā is an iconic mass timber building created to serve as a whare, student hub and home of the Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Studies and the Office of the Vice-Chancellor. This multi-purpose space provides a centre for social interaction, functionality and critically, cultural connection.

At the heart of the building stands the new wharenui, Ko Te Tangata. The waharoa gateway and wharenui exterior are covered in large carvings showcasing the themes of mana motuhake while inside the space is adorned with artworks which draw on the expanse of Te Ao Māori, with celestial, navigational, elemental and atua narratives.

The building was developed through a significant upgrade to the original ‘A Block’ which had been built in the 1960s. By keeping the existing structure but bringing in glulam timber frames – some pieces over 36m long – the team were able to retain the embodied carbon in the structure.

The space has been designed to be multi-functional and can easily transform as needed. Display screens slide discretely behind walls and ceilings when switching between teaching and event modes in the wharenui.  The student hub rapidly changes from student hangout space to premium performance or public address mode supported by the latest presentation technology.

“One of a number of stand out entries in this category this year, The Pā impressed the judges not only due to its innovative design but also its ability to bring the entire community together. The flexible space can transform effortlessly to accommodate conferences and graduation ceremonies with up to 800 seated guests or to host performances, cultural events and corporate functions,” said Andrew Evans, chief judge, Property Industry Awards.

The Pā has been set up as an open space for not only the university students, but the wider community, who played an integral role in the design, too. The project team worked closely with The Office of the Kīngitanga throughout to create a complex that proudly reflects the mana of Waikato-Tainui, and the Kīngitanga, and the mana of the University.  Multiple Iwi groups from across the Waikato contributed to the project.

“This is the most significant capital development that the university has ever made and its impact on the people of Hamilton will be felt for a long time to come,” concludes Evans.


Colliers Project Leaders Education Property Award

Best in category: The Pā, University of Waikato, Hillcrest Road, Hamilton

  • Owner: University of Waikato
  • Construction: Hawkins
  • Architect: Jasmax, Architectus
  • Structural/service/mechanical engineer: Beca
  • Building enclosure engineer: Mott MacDonald
  • Quantity surveyor: Rider Levett Bucknall
  • Project manager: Colliers Project Leaders
  • Other consultants: Boffa Miskell



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  • Tauranga Boys’ College – 12 Classroom Block, Tauranga
  • Te Kura o Manunui, Tauranga
  • Tuhiraki AgResearch Building, Lincoln University, Lincoln
  • Windy Ridge School – Te Whare Ako, Auckland



  • BestStart Hobsonville, Auckland
  • Laidlaw College Campus, Auckland
  • Marian College, Christchurch
  • Northcote Intermediate School (New classroom block), Auckland
  • Oteha Valley School, Auckland
  • Silverdale School, Auckland
  • Waimarie Science Facility, Christchurch




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