Cultural Design

Jasmax are actively deepening and amplifying cultural design practice in Aotearoa New Zealand. We believe robust relationships create the fertile soil needed for growing an architectural identity that is uniquely resonant of our place.

Bicultural Design Leadership

Bicultural design reflects the partnership between the signatories to Te Tiriti o Waitangi – Tangata Whenua and Tangata Tiriti. These communities may be defined as those who are indigenous to Aotearoa New Zealand (iwi Māori) by right of first arrival, Tangata Whenua, and the many people of all cultures and ethnicities who followed, Tangata Tiriti.

We acknowledge Te Tiriti o Waitangi and respect the unique world view of Tangata Whenua - iwi Māori. We also acknowledge the ancestral relationship Tangata Whenua have with the natural environment as an essential source of well-being and identity.

We nurture relationships and partnerships with all clients and collaborators to design buildings, spaces, landscapes, and brand identities connecting people and place.


Jasmax have a long history of involvement in national projects of cultural significance such as Te Papa Tongarewa, the Museum of New Zealand and Tāmaki Paenga Hira, the Auckland Museum. This legacy stems from founding Principal, Ivan Mercep, whose final architectural legacy was the country's first certified Living Building for Ngāi Tūhoe Iwi, the Tūhoe tribal headquarters, Te Kura Whare, which was completed in 2014.

Jasmax have unparalleled capability and experience in cultural design and engagement processes for projects of public significance in Aotearoa New Zealand. We tailor our engagement processes and frameworks to meet the individual needs of every project.

Waka Māia

Waka Māia was founded in 2015 to provide an authentically Māori design voice within Jasmax, with the name Waka Māia being gifted by kaumātua Haare Williams.

Waka Māia contributes significantly to the bicultural design direction of Jasmax, with an advisory position to the Jasmax Board, and is having a far-reaching influence across the architectural profession in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Waka Māia enables Jasmax to nurture the design skills of the Māori architects and leaders of tomorrow. Waka Māia is also helping shape the organisational culture and values of Jasmax. Our rōpū/ team provide skills, integrity and expertise in the context of tikanga Māori design and engagement processes to the benefit of projects across Jasmax.


Jasmax x Haumi

In 2019, Jasmax entered into a partnership with leading Māori cultural development specialist, Karl Johnstone, founder and director of Haumi. Drawing on his extensive national and international experience in the heritage, art and design sectors, including ten years creating and leading exhibitions at Te Papa, Karl provides guidance to Jasmax around developing and maintaining cultural design leadership within Aotearoa New Zealand.

The partnership with Haumi is reflective of Jasmax’s ambitious vision for New Zealand architecture.