In 1993, the Community Design Studio at the University of Auckland was contracted by the Ministry of Education to develop designs for New Zealand's first Maori Secondary School at Hoani Waititi Marae in West Auckland. Maori students, like all other minority indigenous students worldwide have a low completion rate (less than 50%). The occasion for this design coincided with the formation of a Maori student support group - Whaihanga - within the School of Architecture. All of the Whaihanga students were encouraged to take the project, and access to the programme was restricted to Maori students (with one elected exception). The programme lasted for one semester. The $2M design was completed on time and within budget constraints. With some modifications the buildings were completed in 1995. The students all went on to excell in their chosen careers, three of them practicing and teaching Architecture at tertiary level. The project employed kaupapa Maori group working principles and consensus decision-making. All of the students remain firm friends today, some fifteen years later. This is the story of their historic achievement.
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