Tina Engels-Schwarzpaul


Professor of Spatial Design
School of Art and Design

Professor Tina Engels-Schwarzpaul’s love of spatial design came out of the blue. She initially studied chemistry, physics and physical education, but unexpectedly fell pregnant. Two children and three and a half years later Professor Engels-Schwarzpaul decided to return to study.

But instead of picking up where she left off, she had a test to see if there was anything she was particularly good at. It identified that she has an unusually developed spatial imagination, and recommended she pursue architecture or engineering. She decided to follow that suggestion and it turned out that design, particularly architecture and interiors, was a great fit.

After studying, Professor Engels-Schwarzpaul worked in all areas of design from architecture to industrial and object design, exhibition design and historic places protection. At the German Werkbund, she carried out research for exhibitions and collaborated on exhibition design and production.

In 1983 she experienced an “early life crisis” and left Germany for New Zealand. She completed her master's degree, but then returned to Germany. She headed up the design team at Messe Frankfurt while the firm positioned itself as a design leader in the field. Messe Frankfurt was nominated for the 1990 European Community Design Prize by the German Design Council.

Once her children began university, she moved back to New Zealand with her Māori husband. During her PhD, her research began to involve issues concerning Māori culture and in recent years she has shifted to looking at Pacific cultures more generally.

Professor Engels-Schwarzpaul has served as Head of Postgraduate Studies and programme leader of the PhD/MPhil programmes at the School of Art and Design, and has helped establish a new Māori and Oceanic Space Research Cluster in Spatial Design, and a research group called Pacific Spaces. In 2013 she was appointed a leading researcher at AUT.

Professor Engels-Schwarzpaul has maintained her research connections in Germany, and a lot of her projects are formed through them. She actively divides her time between both countries.

Professor Tina Engels-Schwarzpaul extended academic profile