What to do

Decide on your project

Select either a taonga or spatial design context from the list provided, or work with your kaiako to decide on one:

  • taonga
  • whare
  • artefacts, including implements for Mau Rākau or Kapa Haka
  • waka huia
  • waharoa
  • pātaka.

Briefly describe the context of your project and why you chose it:

  • Product design contexts: who is the taonga for and how it will be used? What tikanga could apply to this context?
  • Spatial design contexts: where will it be and what will it be used for? What tikanga could apply to this context?

Part 1: Gather information

Gather images and information to support your understanding of either the taonga or spatial design context. Make sure that you have referenced the source(s) of the images you have gathered and who the original creators were.

Answer these questions to help focus your initial research:

  • What are the origins of your chosen context?
  • What are the functions of your chosen context?
  • How do people interact with it?
  • Where can I find examples?
  • What are some examples?
  • What is the significance of your chosen context?
  • Why is it significant?

Gather images of ‘traditional’ and ‘contemporary’ examples of your taonga or spatial design. Where possible find:

  • a variety of examples or experiences eg pōwhiri
  • details of construction
  • how it is used or interacted with
  • design features eg relationship or whakapapa to mana whenua, local, or regional styles.

With your teacher's guidance, research the school or sites of significance. Identify the iwi and hapū associated with the area. If possible, ask kaumātua or kuia to share their knowledge of the place or site, and its importance to the hapū or iwi over time. Research the traditional design styles associated with the area.

Present your research, either digitally or printed, on an A3 page.

Part 2: Select one designer from te ao Māori and one designer from another design heritage

Suggested Traditional Practice: Wikukī Kā, Rangi Kipa, Pine Taiapa and the Whakarewarewa Carving school etc.

Suggested Contemporary Practice: Selwyn Muru, Ian Scott, John Scott, William Royal, Rewi Thompson, Tere Insley, Perry Royal, Rau Hoskins, Elisapeta Heta, Raukura Turei and Rebecca Green etc.


Research one designer from another design heritage. Potential designers can be selected from a provided list or in consultation with your teacher.

For each selected designer give a brief explanation about:

  • their design biography
  • why you chose them
  • what is it about their work that you like
  • a selection of images of their work.

Present your research, either digitally or printed, on an A3 page.

Part 3: Generate Initial Ideas

Use your research from Parts 1 and 2 to generate possible design ideas for your chosen design context. Each idea will show visual links to:

● the aesthetic and potential material features of your chosen taonga or spatial design
● te ao Māori concepts and another design heritage
● the significance of the place (spatial) or of the person (taonga)

Your ideas can be completed in a variety of ways, including:

  • rapid vis and quick sketches
  • drawings in 2D and 3D modes
  • diagrams
  • model making (paper, card, clay, digital etc).

Present ideas in either printed or digital formats. You should aim to create an A3 page of ideas.

Part 4: Experimentation and Alternatives

Experiment with your initial ideas by making models and drawings that show alternative design options. Show your creative play and experimentation with your chosen design context.

When experimenting with your design, consider:

  • how people will interact with the space or the product
  • alternative materials it could be made from
  • how it might go together (construction)
  • alternatives to form, shape, pattern, texture, colour, and positioning (could it go somewhere else?)
  • for site specific design contexts, consider maps and site plans.

Present ideas either in printed or digital formats. You should aim to create two A3 pages or equivalent size eg one A2 page is the same as two A3 pages.

Part 5: Extending Ideas

Extend your ideas by reconnecting with original research materials, and the parameters of the original design situation, or introducing new ideas such as biometrics or design elements from te ao Māori. You should try to identify and use any successful experimentation methods you discovered when generating your initial design ideas. Extension ideas can be created and presented in a variety of ways including:

  • freehand 2D and 3D drawing modes
  • instrumental 2D and 3D drawing modes
  • digital 2D and 3D drawing modes
  • photographs
  • model making
  • overlays
  • CAD
  • animation modelling.

Present ideas either in printed or digital formats. You should aim to create two A3 pages or equivalent size.

How to present your learning

This assessment should be presented as a portfolio of your best design ideas in either digital, paper, or 3D formats. This can include annotations, voice recordings, or presentations to explain student thinking. This could include:

  • printed or digital pages presented as a portfolio
  • a slide presentation
  • a recorded class presentation.

A printed portfolio of 6-10 A3 single-sided pages is suggested for this work. Work presented to a class or with audio content should require fewer written notes. Photographs of models and actual 3D models count towards the overall recommended page amount.

Your evidence for all parts of this assessment can be in te reo Māori, English, or New Zealand Sign Language.


This project will run for around five to seven weeks (approximately 20-28 hours of class time, plus home learning).

Getting started

To support you in this mahi, before you begin you could:

  • learn about mana whenua, your local hapū and iwi
  • visit local museums, marae, or the library to find resources
  • meet with kaumātua or kuia to hear local histories
  • complete workshops on freehand drawing skills, basic instrumental drawing skills, and digital drawing skills.