Dr Fleur Palmer

profile image

Te Rarawa/Te Aupouri

Dr Fleur Palmer is an Architect, Spatial Activist and Associate Professor in the Faculty of Design and Creative Technologies, Auckland University of Technology.

Phone: +64 9 921 9999 # 8363
Mobile: +64 21 027 028 07

Email: fleur.palmer@aut.ac.nz

Postal Address:
School of Art and Design
Faculty of Design and Creative Technologies
AUT University
Private Bag 92006
Auckland 1142
New Zealand
Links to relevant web pages:


  • Ph.D, Te Ara Poutama, Auckland University of Technology
  • M.Phil (Hons), Auckland University of Technology
  • B.Arch, Auckland University

Memberships and Affiliations:

  • AERB Registered Architect
  • NZIA
  • DINZ
  • Nga Aho

Research Areas:

Spatial activism,  the housing of displaced people, art and spatial practices based on community interventions, collaborative practices, participatory action research, social justice, ethics, emergent technologies, sustainability, indigenous thinking, kaupapa Māori methodologies and food production form the principle components to Dr Palmer's practice based research interests.


Fleur Palmer’s approach to design aims to consider the ethical social and political impact of our presence as individuals and as communities within an overheated world that has access to finite resources. Within this context, she believes designers, play an important role in asking provocative questions to engage with new ways of thinking and art practices and alternative theoretical constructs to imagine a more vibrant future.

In searching for sustainable ways to design and build things, she draws on innovations within contemporary art and science practices, and also the wisdom that comes from indigenous thinking. This approach is based on the idea that through opportunistically drawing upon multiple influences and working collaboratively with a wide range of experts from different disciplines and diverse cultures, we can find alternative ways to become more sustainable, and thus become guardians that actively support and inspire future generations through our innovative design practices.

Everyone has the capacity to be great designers. Great designers are simply people who have the skills and ability to re-imagine and astonish the world, by demonstrating the many different ways in which it can be radically transformed to become a better place. Fleur's aim is to encourage and support students to experiment with ideas and innovations, and question the assumptions that are made, when default strategies maintain the negative impact of the status quo. Designers have a key role to play, as agents working on other people’s behalf, and as educators so that the people that we work with understand the wider implications of what they do, so that they can make informed choices. 

Research Summary:

Fleur Palmer's award winning  Ph.D focused on the displacement of Māori communities through colonisation and is the first doctorate to investigate to implications of discriminatory practices on housing outcomes in Aotearoa. Through her innovative collaborative practice she supported the creation of an affordable housing project in Kaitaia for He Korowai Trust that also featured in a documentary on social housing directed by Briar March called A Place called Home. In her collaborative practices, she worked with 7 marae from the North Hokianga, and the Hawke family from Ngati Whatua to generate visualisations of future development to reflect the core social and the cultural values of these communities in support of self-determination.

Building sustainable papakāinga to support Māori aspirations for self-determinationPerspective of stream revitalisation

Fleur Palmer’s M. Phil completed in 2010 through the School of Engineering at AUT, considered how emergent technologies are applied to developing more sustainable building practices, with a particular emphasis on the development of minimal surface structures.

Using Emergent Technologies to Develop Sustainable Architectural Composites

Current Research Projects:

Dr Palmer is currently involved as a researcher in the Māori Science Team of the National Science Challenge: Building better Homes Towns and Cities, and is developing a collaborative proposal for a vertical papakāinga.


  • Palmer, F., Building sustainable papakāinga to support Māori aspirations for self-determination (A Gold medal award winning Doctoral Thesis, AUT University, Auckland, New Zealand, 2016).
  • Palmer F., The Barracks. 2016 Venice 114-Future Islands Architecture Biennale 115-115 2016 (Journal article) The Barracks was developed as a modest affordable house for a suburb in central Auckland. Although it had never been published, this project was selected for the Future Islands catalogue to represent an exemplar of an alternative affordable and sustainable approach to architecture.
  • Palmer F., Envisioning a Future. IDEA Journal Design Activism:110-120 2014 (Journal article) In Aotearoa, existing territorial legislation and provisions within planning law prevent Māori from fully entering into a negotiation with district councils, in terms of creating a vision for their future, without kowtowing to already established rules that conform to Western models of land use and Western ideas of how district councils think Māori should live. The structure of existing legislation does not encourage Māori to test their own ways of thinking in terms of how they want to occupy urban or rural areas. Existing territorial legislation also discourages Māori from exercising their imagination in terms of developing alternative models that support self-determination.
  • Palmer, F., Developing New Strategies for Māori Housing - paper published and presented at the World indigenous Research Conference Auckland 2012
  • Palmer, F., Mapping Alienation, paper published and presented at SAHANZ
  • Palmer, F., Green Interiors, A Deeper Shade of Green: Sustainable Urban Development, Building and Architecture in new Zealand, edited by Johann Bernhardt, Balassoglou Books, Auckland 2008
  • Palmer, F., Contested House, Colonising Histories Conference Ahmedabad, India 2013
  • Palmer, F., Overcoming Barriers to affordable Housing for Māori, Invited guest speaker at the 2nd annual  Affordable Housing Forum, Wellington 2013
  • Palmer, F., Issues surrounding Māori Housing, Kora presentation, Mangere Arts Centre 2013
  • Palmer, F., Key note Speaker Māori Housing Victoria University, Wellington 2012
  • Palmer F. Building consent for Tu Moana refurbishment, Matihetihe. Building consent documentation. Dec 2014 (Design output) Tū Moana is an old whare hui located at Matihetihe marae. The hapū wanted to extend their whare but they had limited funds so they decided to get the support from the DIY Marae television programme. This programme relies on funding through sponsorship, so there are strict limitations to what can be achieved in a three-day time frame. Fleur did the design and documentation for building consent approval and wrote the Fire and safety reports  for the marae and supervised the building works.
  • Palmer, F., Whare Ora, Resource Consent submission, Northland District Council, 2012  The Resource consent for the Whare Ora project is the first stage of an 18 house development and one the first papakainga to be built in the Kaitaia region since colonisation led to widespread land acquisitions across the Far North district. This affordable housing has been extensively publicised on Cambell Live and Maori Television. It's development highlighted the racism embedded within legislation that hinders communities from being able to access affordable housing in this region. A collaborative consultation process was used to develop of proposals that reflected Te Ao Māori which challenged restrictions by offering an alternative model of land use. Extensive opposition to the project by neighbours led to delays requiring the project to be heard in the Environment Court. Eventually it was approved. Although compromised by a difficult consent process and lack of funding, the project eventually was officially opened in 2016.
  • Palmer, F., Whare Ora, Building Consent submission, Northland District Council, 2012
  • Palmer, F., Using Emergent Technologies to Develop Sustainable Architectural Composites, Thesis submitted for M.Phil, AUT 2009, Research carried out with funding from HERA (Heavy Engineering Research association)
  • Palmer, F., Pallet Maze, a design for temporal intervention for Auckland City Council, Living Rooms 2006.
  • Palmer, F., Long Journey, a critique on a house designed by Lisa Webb and published in Architecture New Zealand, December 2005.
  • Palmer, F., Flat White, Critique on Paper House exhibition for Architecture New Zealand, August 2005.
  • Palmer, F., Miniature and Gigantic, an exhibition on optics commissioned by Auckland City Council. 2004