Matangireia Mita Ngarua Yates-Francis

Matangireia Mita Ngarua Yates-Francis

Master of Architecture (Professional) student
Bachelor of Design in Spatial Design

Te Arawa, Te Aitanga-a-Mahaki, Rongowhakaata, Ngāti Maniapoto

He was inspired by the vision of AUT’s architecture programmes, says Matangireia Mita Ngarua Yates-Francis who completed a Bachelor of Design in Spatial Design in 2019 and is currently enrolled in the Master of Architecture (Professional).

“The future of architecture will play an important role within the sustainability of our environments, mankind’s wellbeing and the salvation of our climate. AUT’s architecture programmes were established to tackle these issues, challenge the current state of architecture, and think about the possibilities we can offer as future architects.

“I came to AUT to study spatial design, but had always aspired to move into architecture eventually. I’d love to have the opportunity to create spaces that improve people’s lives and inspire the next generation. When AUT introduced new architecture programmes in the final year of my bachelor’s degree, I jumped at the opportunity to enrol in the Master of Architecture (Professional).”

Passionate about Māori culture
Raised in Rotorua, Matangireia says he is grateful that his parents and whānau made sure that he and his siblings were surrounded by Māori culture and the arts.

“Right from a young age I’ve always aspired to have a career where I could showcase excellent art, whether it be in design, architecture, painting, carving or moko. The passion was always there. Before leaving school, I realised that I was especially interested in creating spaces and architecture. I was offered a place in an architecture school at another university, but I kept my options open. I’m glad that I did because then I found spatial design at AUT.

“In the spatial design programme, the academic staff captured me with their passion for their work and their students’ success. I’m grateful for all I learned throughout my Bachelor of Design in Spatial Design, and can’t thank my lecturers enough for all their teachings.”

As the only Māori in his class, Matangireia admits that in the beginning he struggled to be true to who he was as a creative and would often give in to the pressure of fitting in. A conversation with one of his lecturers changed that.

“My style of design is heavily influenced by my Māori culture. Everything I do is shaped by Mātauranga Māori. But in my first ever presentation in spatial design, that wasn’t the case. I wasn’t drawing what I was passionate about; my culture. That day, Associate Professor Albert Refiti asked me if I was Māori and if I liked my own work. I said ‘Yes’ and ‘No I don’t’. So he told me, ‘Use your passions as your driving tool for design’, knowing that I hadn’t done so . And from that day on I’ve done just that.”

A home away from home
He has appreciated the support available to him throughout his studies, Matangireia says.

“In my first year, my partner and I moved from Rotorua to Auckland. Being Māori and away from home, I was worried that I would somehow miss home or not manage my time well or even be overwhelmed by the workload and general life things. But AUT helped me to find my home away from home.”

There’s plenty of support available to help other Māori students find their feet at AUT, he adds.

“AUT’s Office of Māori Advancement and Titahi ki Tua Māori Student Association have been two of the major support systems that have made my journey here enjoyable. I’m currently the president of Titahi ki Tua, and I would invite any Māori students at AUT to join our whānau."

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