TOA Architects

Whiti Ora

Whiti Ora

Starship Foundation were bequeathed a gift to fund a new research centre to accelerate world-class health for all tamariki in Aotearoa. This included the refurbishment of a 1970’s three-story building for Starship Foundation, Clinical Research and Tele Health. Starship were gifted a pūrākau by Dame Naida Glavish (Ngāti Whātua). The pūrākau tells a story of the pīpīwharauroa laying and gifting its eggs into the riroriro bird’s nest, for the riroriro bird to nurture and care for, as it would its own. This pūrākau resonates with Starship in the sense of whānau leaving their tamariki in Starships care, to care for and nurture. This pūrākau forms as a basis and seed to carry this project.

The purpose of this space is to foster research, innovation, collaboration, and education for the betterment of children and whānau in Aotearoa. The building promotes a strong research culture, aiding Starship in enhancing clinical pathways and testing new services. It serves as a platform for donor appreciation and attraction, by hosting events in its seminar and innovation areas. The spaces are welcoming and designed to embody the pūrākau of Starship.

TOA expanded on the pūrākau by looking at the pīpīwharauroa’s journey to Aotearoa. The pipīwharauroa flew over from Hawaiiki, across the realm of Tangaroa and lands in Te Waonui o Tane. When you hear the manu’s bird call it is the first sign of spring, of mahuru. Spring is the time for re-growth, for planting of the seed. Through the expansion of this pūrākau, we also envisioned the building itself as Te Waonui o Tane. The basement level being the roots of the tree, the ground level as the ngāhere floor and the first level as the tree canopy. The artwork, materials and colours are designed to engage tamariki whilst integrating the ngāhere and Starship’s identity.

Photography: Worth Showing, Autex Acoustics & Starship Foundation


  • Client: Starship Foundation
  • Location: Grafton, Auckland
  • Programme: Workspace & Healthcare
  • Consultants: Maurea (Māori Cultural Consulting), Marshall Day Acoustics (Acoustic Engineering)
  • Collaborators: Studio DB (Base Build)
  • Contractor: Studio DB
  • Status: Completed 2023