Holly Anaru

Holly Anaru

Master of Architecture (Professional) with Honours (First Class)
Bachelor of Design in Spatial Design

Te Arawa, Ngāti Whakaue

The social and environmental aspects of the built environment are two of her passions, says Holly Anaru who completed a Master of Architecture (Professional) and has since moved to Europe to travel before recently settling in Germany.

“I want to create spaces that are built to support our most vulnerable people, empower our indigenous communities, work towards decolonisation, and acknowledge and incorporate indigenous knowledge. I hope to continue my work in sustainable housing, working with iwi and influencing positive change in our built environments to ensure sustainable futures for current and future generations.

“My master’s degree research project explored a te ao Māori approach to medium-density housing on iwi land. This project was centred on a housing development with the Hawke whānau of Ngāti Whātua o Ōrākei to replace their current home, which doesn’t meet their needs. The exploration of te ao Māori, the colonisation of housing and its socio-ecological impact and case studies are utilised to influence the architectural outcome of the design.”

Her research used design and architecture as a solution that accommodates to the Māori lifestyle while aligning with Ngāti Whātua values and responding to Aotearoa’s current climate and housing crises, says Holly whose thesis was supervised by Associate Professor Fleur Palmer.

The right choice
For Holly, her AUT journey started with enrolling in AUT’s Bachelor of Design in Spatial Design before she decided to continue into postgraduate study in architecture.

“Design and visual communication was my favourite class in high school, and spatial design at AUT seemed to be a continuation of that. A friend had told me about spatial design and it sounded exactly like what I wanted to do. From what I had heard about AUT, it seemed to be future-focused and an encouraging, supportive space to explore my passions – I knew it would be a good fit for me. So I decided to apply and I’m so glad I did!

“I’ve always been interested in architecture, so when I finished my bachelor’s degree in design and found out that it was possible to continue my studies in architecture, it seemed the right choice. In hindsight, it was one of the best things I’ve done.”

The ability to work on a whole range of projects was what she enjoyed most about her studies, says Holly who is proud of receiving the Beverly Anaru Memorial Scholarship, which supports Te Arawa descendants’ efforts in tertiary education.

“Being able to contribute and work on real-life projects is super rewarding and those were my favourite projects to do. I also loved meeting some awesome people and creating really strong friendships while I was at AUT.”

Room to find her passion
She says she would definitely recommend the Master of Architecture (Professional) to other students.

“The architecture degree has taught me to think and ask complex questions about how we want our future to look, what role architecture plays in this, and how we might design in more ethical and regenerative ways.”

The programme has helped connect her to te ao Māori and discover her interests, she says.

“The programme allowed me to find what interests me and got me to ask myself hard questions about who I want to be and how I want my journey in architecture to play out. The architecture department supported me in that, and gave me the space to explore and research those interests that then influence my work. This has allowed me to create work I’m proud of and I’ve learnt so much in the process.”