Ngā Aho design finalists announced.

9:52 am on 2 October 2015

A hand crafted font carved on wood; three schools under one roof and a new visual identity for the Armed Offenders Squad are among the Ngā Aho finalists in the 2015 Best Design Awards.

Mana Tamariki in Palmerston North (designed by Tennent and Brown Architects)

Mana Tamariki in Palmerston North Photo: Paul McCredie

The Ngā Aho Award is a partnership between the Designers Institute of New Zealand and Ngā Aho Inc, the national society of Maori designers.

Among the five finalists is an architecture company that is no stranger to coming up with blueprints for Māori organisations.

Wellington-based Tennent and Brown Architects have designed a multipurpose facility for a kohanga reo, a kura kaupapa and a wharekura all under one roof for Mana Tamariki in Palmerston North.

The building's roof has been designed as a sheltering cloak, with a pattern of layered panels on the ceiling.

The roof, designed to follow and shelter the growth of the tamariki, rises and folds over the kura while encircling two courtyards.

The building's open teaching spaces are an essential feature of te ao Māori.

Māori patterning is imprinted throughout the kura, from atua panels at the huimanga, the kura tohu engraved in the precast and the pounamu (stepped learning) etching to the exterior, and the "kia kaha te kōrero" Māori text patterning to the glazed spandrels.

The other finalists include:

Lisa Reihana in Pursuit of Venus (Philip Kelly Studio, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki)

This publication was designed to accompany Lisa Reihana's video installation in her exhibition In Pursuit of Venus (Infected). The publication is based on the artwork, which is a reinterpretation of the period of early 19th century French design.

Te Oro Tukutuku Panel

One of the five finalists - Te Oro Tukutuku Panel Photo: SUPPLIED

Te Oro Tukutuku Panel (Alt Group, Creative director: Dean Poole)

Te Oro is a new music and arts centre in Glen Innes, which has been designed for the local community to come together to perform and practise the visual and performing arts.

The tukutuku panels were created in partnership with Ngāti Pāoa, with the endorsement of Ngāti Whātua and Ngāi Tai Ki Tāmaki.

PURE Pakati (by Whybin/TBWA and Klim TypeFoundry)

The PURE Pakati typeface and brand system is a collaboration between some of New Zealand's leading Pākehā and Māori carvers, and between Tourism New Zealand and the Māori Tourism Society.

Armed Offenders Squad Identity Design, New Zealand Police, (Open Lab. Creative Directors, Celeste Holmes, Karl Kane)

The designers' brief was to create a visual identity to mark the 50th anniversary of the New Zealand Police Armed Offenders Squad (AOS).

After exploration and collaboration the designers arrived at the wahaika (a traditional Maori hand weapon), which resonated with the AOS because it is unique to New Zealand; it was used only by the most proficient and proven warriors, and it was used as a negotiating tool. The designers said they "walked a creative journey" alongside serving AOS members, veterans, artists, geologists, and Māori and Pākehā scholars.

The winner of the Ngā Aho Award will be announced at an awards dinner in Auckland on Friday 9 October.