Wirihana Leadership Award

The Wirihana Leadership Award aims to maintain focus on female leaders in their second decade + beyond graduation. The second decade beyond graduation is significant for all architectural careers, and statistics show that it is during this time that gender has a significant impact. This category is neither a graduate award not a mid-career award, but is instead aimed at the career stage between those two, that is so often when women lose their visibility. It seems that just as mentoring relationships are defined and future leaders noted, females become less visible, and this award aims to reverse this by maintaining the presence of emerging leaders in the profession’s eye.

(See below for the explanation of the naming of this award.)

Judging criteria will be based on;

•      Evidence of outstanding architectural design talent

•      Evidence of team leadership skills

•      Evidence of working well in collaboration: partnerships, teams of all sizes and diversities (eg a cross section of people from a variety of areas, which may include trades, institutions, academic, business, social groupings, ages, cultures etc.)

•      Ability to establish a positive work/life balance

•      Mentor relationships are identified

Entry Criteria:

•      The Wirihana Emerging Leadership Award is open to all members on the A+W•NZ database who are in the second decade after the date of their graduation.

•      Entry for the Wirihana Emerging Leadership Award is by nomination. The nominator does not need to be a member of the A+W•NZ database.

•      Entrants may nominate themselves or be nominated by another person or group /practice.

•      Nominations can be for an individual or a Practice/Collective.

•      Exclusions: the A+W•NZ core Award Team are not eligible for nomination (refer A+W-NZ website for non­eligible members).



The FIVE FINALISTS for the Wirihana Leadership Award;
(in alphabetical order)

Natalie Allen (The Urban Advisory)
Felicity Brenchley (Felicity Brenchley Architects + ĀKAU)
Ilona Haghshenas (Warren and Mahoney)
Fiona Short (Warren and Mahoney)
Louise Wright (Assembly Architects)


The FIVE FINALISTS for the Wirihana Leadership Award;
(in alphabetical order)
Bureaux Ltd (Jessica Barter and Maggie Carroll)
Mary Henry (Jasmax)
Natasha Markham (MAUD)
Rogan Nash (Kate Rogan and Eva Nash)
Sophie Wylie (Artifact)



Finalists - Wirihana Emerging Leadership Award:

Andrea Bell

Cecile Bonnifait

Maggie Carroll

Sarah Gilbertson

Marianne Riley

Winner:  Cecile Bonnifait, Bonnifait + Giesen Atelier Workshop


The Awards are named for women who have had a considerable influence on New Zealand architecture;

Moana Wirihana (Te Kawerau-a-Maki)for whom the Leadership Award is named, was a respected community leader who contributed to architecture through her involvement in several significant whare nui and community projects.

From 1986 until 1992, Sarah Treadwell ran a course at the Architecture School at The University of Auckland titled Women and Architecture. The course was designed to build awareness of contemporary and past women involved in architecture, initially worldwide and in the later years with a focus on New Zealand. The seminar course ensured that each piece of research contributed to collective knowledge around a growing history of New Zealand women architects, and these projects have become an interesting and valuable source of information for researchers today.

One project in 1987, by Saul Roberts (Te Kawerau-a-Maki, Waiohua, Waikato), was a transcript of an interview with Moana Wirihana, a kuia connected to his whanau. While Wirihana was not a registered architect, Roberts presented a compelling argument for her inclusion in the field of this Women and Architecture study, effectively writing Maori women, not only her, into our history of architecture. This important work in highlighting a rich architectural history that has consistently been overlooked - due to falling outside of the Pakeha learning and registration structures - has been continued by Dr Deidre Brown (Ngapuhi, Ngati Kahu). Saul Roberts described how Moana Wirihana's influence, respected opinion and strong leadership had been wide-ranging in the design and construction of several whare nui, especially relevant to the architectural history of this country. Many other Maori women have played this role throughout New Zealand's history, such as Hēni Hoana (Jane Tōpia), Dame Whina Cooper and Te Puea Herangi. This award pays homage to Moana Wirihana by naming the Leadership Award after her, and in doing so respectfully reveals an entire thread of history that is consistently omitted from the canon of Aotearoa New Zealand architecture.

Architectural education has taken many forms over the centuries, and in New Zealand the current recognised pathway is via the universities. Prior to the establishment of our various architectural degrees, architects were ‘articled’ to particular practices through something we may now recognise as being similar to an apprenticeship. Prior to and alongside these Pakeha structures of education, there exists a parallel Māori education system for architecture. These include the many forms of whakairo and raranga wānanga, which have been documented extensively by Dr Deidre Brown. It is hoped that one day this parallel education system will also be recognised by the academic, professional and registration bodies that govern our architectural communities. 

The naming of this award also acknowledges the huge and positive impact that Sarah Treadwell has had on our emerging leaders through her role in the education of our future architects and thinkers.