A Pakeha architect says having a better understanding, or even a basic knowledge of te reo Maori, helped him to understand what his Maori clients were trying to achieve.
One of the founders of Tennant and Brown Architects, Hugh Tennant, won the inaugural Nga Aho award at the 2012 Best Design Awards.
The firm created a holistic health centre, Nga Purapura, for their client, Te Wananga o Raukawa in Otaki.
Mr Tennant says being willing to fully co-operate on a cultural level was very rewarding.
He says that began for him 10 years ago, when a friend helped him prepare a "mihi", or introduction speech, and some small greetings, which he was able to draw on when he worked with the wananga.