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Waikato-Tainui and ACC – uniting to strengthen their community

Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) are working in partnership with Tainui Group Holdings (TGH) and Waikato-Tainui to design their new office space in Kirikiriroa (Hamilton). Together, they’re designing a space that reflects the significance of the site and the community it serves.

As Hazel Scandlyn, Cultural Capability Manager, ACC explained "As the site of the former maara kai (vegetable garden) that fed and provided sustenance for Kirikiriroa Paa, this area has an important history of manaakitanga, of taking care of people and supporting everyone to have the best possible quality of life. This is exactly what ACC strives to do too."

Working together on design

ACC decided from the beginning that as well as working with TGH and Waikato-Tainui to develop and implement the building, it was also important to consult with local iwi on the narrative that sits inside and outside the building.

Justin de la Haye, Property Senior Project Manager, ACC explained why it was important to involve them in the design.

“For us this wasn’t just a landlord/tenant relationship. We wanted to work together from a design perspective. There was a strong desire to recognise the importance of the site and combine what TGH wanted to achieve with the exterior of the building with how we designed the interior.”

ACC regularly engaged with TGH and Waikato-Tainui on the overall design and for aspects like the themes and dialect used to name the meeting rooms.

Reflecting the significance of the site

The building design incorporates colours relevant to Waikato-Tainui, blending the earth and sky tones found in our taiao (environment). Blues were used to represent Tainui and their connection with the awa and moana (river and sea), greens for papatuuaanuku (land), browns for the ngaahere (forest) and natural components of Rongoaa representing natural medicines.

ACC also sought advice from kaiwhakairo (carvers), and kairaranga (weavers) on the design elements of the new building. These local experts helped to identify which plants to include in designs to show the plants and trees that historically grew in the area.

Hazel explained how Tongikura (proverbs from the Kiingitanga) were also incorporated into their designs.

“One of the tongikura (proverbs) that has been used is from Kiingi Tuheitia - Amohia ake te ora o te iwi ka puta ki te wheiao – which reminds us to be mindful of others and to seek ways to unite because through unity comes strength.”

Each floor above reception has been themed around the taiao, the natural environment. These are themes are ngaahere (forest/bush), ngaa manu (birds) and ngaa whetuu (stars). The floors are linked by LED tukutuku panels that were designed for ACC in the traditional colours of red, black and white. Each floor has a particular pattern which also aligns with the manifestations used on meeting room glazing. One of the floors uses the poutama pattern and has carpets that align with this pattern.

“For us the experience with Waikato-Tainui and TGH has been fantastic. There’s been a very strong partnering concept that I’ve never experienced on any other projects like this. We’re all trying to achieve a great outcome for our people and our customers, and we want to continue this long-term partnership. It’s not about just a building,” says Justin de la Haye.

The development is now in its final stages and expected to open in March/April 2023.