The Moana-Nui people are often perceived as different people made up of many cultures and identities. However, a vast array of their traditions and ways of life do interlink and are parallel to each other. In order to understand these similarities, it is important to understand their worldviews and realities as a whole, to fully grasp what Moana-Nui architecture is. The fale is one such example of this cultural knowledge that connects and binds all cultures within Moana Nui (the Pacific) together. From small and minute details such as the similarity of the pronunciation in names relating to a fale construction between Samoan, Māori, and Tongan cultures, to the way a fale serves its purpose, to how it is constructed and the way it relates to the wider context on which it is situated upon. This interconnectedness and multiplicity are what lead to the fale being a topic of investigation for this thesis. It considers how the fale as an architectural construct is labeled with similar appellations but serves a variety of functions to the extent where it sometimes deters from the original definition, and yet it still feels the same. This is what makes the fale special.
This is a speculative research project that investigates how indigenous architectural knowledge is relevant in contemporary contexts, portrayed through Tongan ideals, traditions, stories, and historical architectural worldviews. Drawing upon methods used in the profession of Tufunga Langafale (Tongan craftsman). This study considers the Tufunga methods used by Tongans in the past, and integrates this knowledge with 21st Century building methods, combining both indigenous and contemporary ideas to create a reimagining of the Tongan traditional fale for AUT (Auckland University of Technology). This fale will act as a structure capable of serving multiple functions, however, its main programming will be to educate the students on Moana-Nui ideals, traditions, stories, and historical architectural worldviews tying it to the newly established Huri te ao school of architecture at the university. This will be experienced literally, physically, and spiritually in the proposed fale.
As this research is heavily focused on the Tongan culture, the notion of what a fale is will be investigated through the lens of Tongan worldviews and perspectives.