NZ’s first ‘Living Building’ for Ngai Tuhoe

Te Kura Whare

NZ's first living building for Ngai Tuhoe


Ngai Tuhoe




Taneatua, Whakatane



Arts & Communities
About This Project

A living legacy to Tuhoe’s boldness – Te Kura Whare, Ngai Tūhoe’s new headquarters near Whakatane is designed to be zero net energy, water, toxicity and waste; be integrated into its surrounding landscape and to give back to the world around it. Built to the stringent guidelines of the ‘Living Building Challenge‘ it is currently New Zealand’s most advanced sustainable building.


Unique Aspects

Certified as New Zealand’s first ‘Living Building’ in May 2017

Local materials and labour were used wherever possible creating jobs for the local community and up-skilling people in the area. This included 150 local volunteers who made over 5000 earth-bricks to help insulate the building.

The 760 materials utilised on the project were nontoxic, chemical-free and locally sourced where possible. This had a positive follow-on effect for the whole construction industry as a number of suppliers reformulated their products to permanently remove harmful chemicals following their involvement in the project. It took on average 8 hours for each material to be researched to ensure it met the LBC’s stringent criteria.

Timber was used for 95% of the build – this came from FSC certified Tuhoe suppliers and also included down-and-dead timber from the local Urewera’s.

The building has the largest photovoltaic installation in the southern hemisphere.



PCNZ Special Purposes Award and Green Building Award 2014, NZIOB Supreme Award Winner 2014, NZIOB Young Achiever Award 2014 (Highly Commended)


Further articles on the project

NZ Herald – how buildings can restore nature
Green ideas – Sam Judd – Tuhoe Rising
Ngai Tuhoe website
Architecture NZ
Building materials revolution
Film celebrates Tuhoe and NZ’s first living building
Surviving NZ’s first living building – an interview with the Project Director

For Arrow, what they can be proud of, is that they have delivered a building with us, that meets our expectations around the vision that we have wanted to create, for a building to be an icon.

Te Hau,
Group Manager Whairawa, Ngai Tuhoe