Bicultural Design

For more than 50 years, Jasmax has worked to amplify sustainable, bicultural design practice in Aotearoa New Zealand and the Pacific. As outlined in our Manifesto, we respect the unique worldview of iwi Māori and strive to embed te ao Māori perspectives and concepts into our design practice. We aim to produce work which is mutually beneficial to society and the environment, that reflects the diverse cultures of our place.


Bicultural Design Leadership

In Aotearoa New Zealand, bicultural design emerges from the partnership between Tangata Whenua and Tangata Tiriti, the two signatories of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. These groups are defined as Tangata Whenua, those who are indigenous to Aotearoa New Zealand (iwi Māori), and the people who followed, Tangata Tiriti.

A pillar of the Jasmax Manifesto is that we acknowledge Te Tiriti o Waitangi and respect the unique world view of Tangata Whenua. Also, that we acknowledge the ancestral relationship Tangata Whenua have with the natural environment as an essential source of wellbeing and identity.


Te Tiriti inspires us to recognise that architecture is a powerful means to realise values, connect people to place, and enact positive change. It is a tool to uplift people, transform health and wellbeing, and provide a future for our children.

As designers, we reflect and integrate the concepts of manaaki, tiaki and aroha (exchange, reciprocity, and consideration) to celebrate and connect us to our place in the world.

Mana Whenua Engagement

Jasmax has unparalleled experience in supporting bicultural engagement processes for projects of public, institutional and cultural significance.

After many years working closely alongside iwi and hapū groups from across the country, Jasmax has developed a flexible engagement framework that can be adapted to fit the unique requirements of individual projects and stakeholders.


As well as establishing a welcoming and safe space for dialogue, enquiry and challenge, our framework also provides a guide for Tangata Tiriti clients to uphold obligations in accordance with Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

“Our goal is that powerful design concepts and transformational change may emerge from this space of reciprocity and respect; generating designs that embody the past, present, and future aspirations of Mana Whenua for their land and people.” – Elisapeta Heta.

Waka Māia

Led by Principal and founding member Elisapeta Heta, Waka Māia provides skills, integrity, and expertise in the context of tikanga Māori design and engagement processes. Founded in 2015, Waka Māia nurtures the design skills of future Māori architects and leaders of tomorrow.

Gifted by kaumātua Dr Haare Williams, the name Waka Māia reflects the intention to create a resilient and powerful vessel able to draw people together while they strive to represent Māori and Pasifika culture in the built environment.


Contributing significantly to the bicultural design direction and values of Jasmax, Waka Māia is also integral to the continuing education and development of cultural capability and understanding of te ao Māori across our organisation.

In 2019, Jasmax formalised a joint tertiary scholarship programme with the University of Auckland to support Māori and Pacific students in the study of architecture. The scholarship provides individual students with $5,000 per annum for up to five years to complete a Bachelor of Architectural Studies Degree and Masters in Architecture.