Gisborne, New Zealand

Representing 1000 years of navigation and settlement in Turanganui-a-Kiwa Gisborne, Puhi Kai Iti is a historical development that commemorates the arrival of Māori and Pākehā, who first landed at Tawararo (Kaiti Beach) and settled at the site.

Many years after the Māori landing, Captain Cook and his crew landed at the same beach in 1769.

An effort to rebalance narratives expressed in this significant landscape as part of the overarching Tairāwhiti Navigation Project, an infrastructure project was undertaken on this site. The Puhi Kai Iti Connection Project involved the Te Papa Atawhai Department of Conservation, Te Kaunihera o Te Tairāwhiti Gisborne District Council, and Ngāti Oneone.

In 2020, Puhi Kai Iti won a gold award in the New Zealand Best Design Awards. The Puhi Kai Iti site comprises of two key architectural components — the Ikaroa Sculpture and the Tukutuku Panels around the sculpture. Complementing the Ikaroa Sculpture’s wave-like structure, the Tukutuku panels imitate a circular wall wrapping around the sculpture.

Carefully crafted, the Tukutuku Panels feature 112 steel panels, punched with 5,900 individual holes and woven with 7.3km of cord. Volunteers from the local Iwi Ngāti Oneone and skilled weavers from around Tairawhiti assisted with the construction. As night falls, the Aeon Flex illuminate the Tukutuku Panels from within, highlighting and honouring every detail.

Through our partner, MHL Lighting, Unios is privileged to be a part of such a historically meaningful project.


Architects: Boffa Miskell
Project team:
Morné Hugo
Cathy Challinor
Rory Gray
Currie Construction
Client: Department of Conservation, Gisborne District Council
Lighting Supplier: MHL






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