Tarawera High School



Kawerau, Bay of Plenty


2017 Property Council NZ, Property Industry Award - Order of Merit

2017 NZIA Waikato Bay of Plenty Award - Education Category

2016 World Architecture Finalist

2016 Resene Total Colour Awards Winner - Education

2016 Resene Total Colour Awards Winner - Colour Master Nightingale Award

Tarawera High School is situated on the shore of the Tarawera River and under the mountain of Putauaki in the small mill town of Kawerau on the Bay of plenty.

The design reflects Kawerau’s unique culture, history and landscape. The masterplan proposes a solution that inspires learning & promotes the fulfilment of potential in Kawerau’s rangatahi (younger generation/youth).

Through a collaborative process that involved extensive school and community engagement, the masterplan proposes a school that puts community and cultural facilities at its heart.

Typically with 90 pupils per classrooms in open plan learning spaces, an advanced innovative learning environment includes a variety of well-connected spaces through the use of new building materials and technologies. It allows for a variety of teaching pedagogical practice, and specialist teaching spaces with technology and equipment suitable for a multitude of subjects and disciplines and provides spaces which can be utilised by both the school and the community alike.

The new buildings are planned and orientated along critical ley lines which are significant to the local community. The central plan which consists of a multipurpose Wharenui (the heart) faces directly north to where the Tarawera River meets the coast. Communal facilities include the Wharenui, Performing Arts Centre, and Hospitality Suite along with the School Reception and are placed around an open courtyard which is accessed directly via the school’s main entrance. Aligned on this entrance is the ley line from the local culturally significant mountain – Putauaki which forms a back drop to the school upon arrival. This axis also aligns to the north-west towards Maketu – an important historic landmark – which forms a street between the senior and middle school Learning Houses.

The traditional style of teaching has been replaced with new modern facilities, which transposes complexity for simplicity in both function and architecture, allowing a new generation to be propelled into the future.

Learning from the Land