Ashley Taimataora

Architecture student and Rewi Thompson scholarship recipient Ashley discusses architecture school, the scholarship and life at university.

Ashley Taimataora
Ashley Taimataora

"I was lucky enough to have studied spatial and block design at high school, with a focus on small scale projects. Studying architecture, therefore, seemed like a great way for me to use my skills more practically, and explore relevant areas like residential housing. 

"Looking at buildings interests me, the way they work and the construction of floor plans. So I decided to apply to study a Bachelor of Architectural Studies at the University of Auckland. I did my research through the University website and asked for advice from my school’s careers adviser to ensure I was taking the right courses. Common ones like graphics and art, but also English and maths are essential. 

"Thankfully, I was accepted onto the programme and became the inaugural recipient of the Rewi Thompson Undergraduate Scholarship in Architecture. This scholarship not only helps me financially but has also provided me with important insights into the operation of architectural firms.

"Orientation provided me with a few new experiences, the most important one being transport. Living in suburban Auckland is a long way to come in to study.  Fortunately, I travel in with a few other students.

"I was amazed at the size of the campus, as it stretches the whole of Symonds Street and beyond. Finding my way around was a big learning experience, but I was grateful to have had a tour on that first day. After lunch we were welcomed into a lecture theatre in the Architecture and Planning Building and addressed by the Head of School. For me, it felt so real; that I was actually a student now.

"The first few weeks were exciting and intriguing. Firstly, getting to know the building and room numbering system to find my classes, then meeting lots of new students and staff. A lot of the courses involve group work, and I was surprised to not be in the same group of students who went to my high school. However, it was good we were put into different groups as it was a great opportunity to meet new people. 

"In architecture, we have studio work and so we work in both large areas and smaller bays throughout the year. The tutors in these areas are friendly and helpful and assist us with performing ‘Crits’ (Critiques). At first I was nervous about giving critiques as these involve speeches in front of groups. After a few attempts though, you do get used to it, especially when it’s your work, and you know what it is you’re talking about. Compared to the first time, I now know how to control the conversation and influence what others say about my work.

"We are fortunate enough to have a vast range of facilities here, but it’s also important to know how to use them. In my high school we had Adobe applications and one rendering software, Sketchup, so I advise any future students to experiment with these as much as possible. It’s also handy having the assistance of the technicians who help us with the big machines like CNC for model making.

You can always reach out to other tutors and programmes like Tuākana for help with things you're not sure of. 

Ashley Taimataora

"The studios are a shared space and provide you with the opportunity to look at each other’s work and share ideas. We are also lucky to be supplied with lockers, so you can store your work here instead of taking it home. But you need to get in fast to get a good one!

"One of the hardest things for me adjusting to university life was time management. Coming in early, staying back late and living far away meant a lot of planning to get everything done especially when you aren’t able take much home with you, such as models or pieces that require certain software. You get good at learning how to balance your class, studio and free time. One day you could be in lectures for most of the day, so don’t have much time to do drawings or sketches, others you maybe in workshops for a bit and then doing group work. Your day always seems to be changing.

"Being the first person in my family to come to University, the Rewi Thompson scholarship has inspired me to go on to look at a serious career in architecture. It also assists me with covering costs for materials, which you can go through quite quickly!

"I have learnt a lot this year, and met heaps of interesting people. Looking ahead to next year, I am hoping to widen my horizons and start using a lot more digital mediums. Looking back at this year, I was blessed to get to use aspects of my Māori and Pacific heritage in my work. A lot of my inspiration comes from my personal background, and by using it in my work it helps to show who I am to the world."