Transforming interior spaces with innovative acoustic solutions




Seamless design and story telling meet acoustics

Architect: Designgroup Stapleton Elliott (DGSE)

Installer: JM Coulter Flooring, S. Graham and Son

Categories: Bespoke

Account Manager: Lucy Cable

Designer: Rangi Kipa of Tihei with David Hakaraia in association

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Human Rights Commission Te Kāhui Tika Tangata: Sharing culture through design

The project

The focus of the Human Rights Commission Te Kāhui Tika Tangata is to promote and protect the human rights of all people in Aotearoa New Zealand. Set up in 1977 they work for a free, fair, safe, and just New Zealand, where diversity is valued and rights are widely respected.


Covering such a broad range of issues is a complex and difficult task. Ensuring that those who work on such sensitive and important topics have the environment to do so at the highest level, is crucial. What this requires is a space designed to promote the wellbeing of all occupants. This can be achieved through the use of environmentally safe materials, creating acoustically efficient spaces that add engaging visual elements. 


Designgroup Stapleton Elliott (DGSE) worked in a co-design partnership with mana Whenua alongside The Human Rights Commission to realise their new premises in the heart of Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington. As a Te Tiriti based organisation, a fundamental driver was to deliver an authentic expression of the organisation’s values and beliefs systems within an evolving workplace setting. Implementing a theme that truly represented Te Ao Māori would require more than just design expertise, but an understanding of Māori culture and how that fits into a modern design context.


Ensuring that this story is accurately portrayed across this space required the blending of aesthetic design considerations  and acoustic performance. Achieving this would help to create a more cohesive environment comfortable for all inhabitants.


The process:


To ensure that the designs created were an authentic Te Ao Māori representation, Tihei’s Rangi Kipa and David Hakaraia, an independent design professional, joined creative forces alongside DGSE. It was crucial for this design to not only reflect the Mana Whenua of Wellington, but also display a connection to people outside of Aotearoa.


David explains that “These designs have been crafted in a way that represents all cultures of the world through Māori design aesthetics. The continual line of the aho throughout the space is used to display our connection between our whakapapa, all the way back to the whenua and womb of Papatūānuku”. An aho is the first line in weaving that sets the rest of the pattern and is used as a continuous theme throughout the building.

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The solution

This project required a range of Custom Cube panels to accurately replicate these designs. Many of these needed precision cut and inlaid Cube panels as a colour base, with intricate printed patterns following the contours of the inlaid design. This required not only perfect product alignment across multiple machines, but also perfect colour match of the print over different substrate colour. With limited room for error, the final product was set together and then shipped to ensure the designs were correctly installed.


Getting to this result was no small feat and required the combined efforts of multiple teams. Bringing cultural themes accurately to life through cohesive design elements is one task. This then needs to be translated into a functional form that can be manufactured onto acoustic panelling. 


With such deep meaning and thought behind the designs, accuracy needed to be achieved through the production process. As a result, there was a need for strong communication around how we could achieve this within our manufacturing capabilities. Autex Acoustics Senior Designer, Luke Walker, filled this role and worked tirelessly to ensure we produced a final product to a high standard. 


On top of this, Quietspace® panels were also used as an acoustic ceiling treatment. A 6 mm Gherkin overlay was pre-laminated to Quietspace panels with a Resene colour match paint used to ensure a seamless blend from wall to ceiling.

The result

The final result of this collaboration is a truly detail inspired solution that meets not only aesthetic requirements but also provides strong acoustic performance for all spaces. The outcome was satisfying for all parties and a project that they are immensely proud of. 


DGSE best described their satisfaction saying, “Conceived as a sanctuary for staff and visitors alike, the Wellington premises embodies a unique Te Ao Māori expression to which the Human Rights Commission will continue to nurture and give life”.


This space is truly one of a kind and provides more than just great design. The cultural link and methods taken to ensure that Te Ao Māori is accurately reflected, means that this environment is not just a place of work. It is a hub for everyone and carries on the story of mana whenua.

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Project Team

It's all about people

Lucy Cable

Account Manager – Lower North Island

Luke Walker

Senior Designer

Designgroup Stapleton Elliott

Architecture Firm


David Hakaraia

Independent Design Professional


Rangi Kipa of Tihei Ltd

Design Consultants

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