Te Hurihanga Kawakawa Vintage Railway

The cultural junction of the north

The Bay of Islands Vintage Railway is the most northerly railway in New Zealand. Of significant historical and cultural importance, the railway operates today on a section of the former Opua track and offers train rides to visitors.

Project brief: To design a new training facility, alongside the existing historic railway station, that speaks to the cultural narrative and history of the Kawakawa Railway, the town's history of coal mining and local iwi Ngāti Hine.

The new building reflects the partnership between the BOIVR Trust and Ngāti Hine, and the existing historic station.

Unique design elements in the project include:

• Entrance – Coal mining tunnel entrance experience with rammed earth walls.

Building appears to be 4 separate typical Coal mining type buildings with a mix of cultural narrative elements. .

•  Working with Ngāti Hine Artists to confirm the cultural narrative kaupapa design elements.  .

Challenges met and value/benefits provided:

Budget constraints – using simple building forms and
construction of a lightweight building.


Working with existing infrastructure presented limitations on building placement and traffic parking layouts

Time constraints – the project received PGF funding which meant a very quick turnaround of concept plans and liaising with local iwi. We achieved an approved concept plan from both iwi and the trust in 4 weeks.


Integrating the new building to function with the existing historic station, and have the building speak to the partnership with Ngāti Hine.