The Pā enhances student life and fosters community engagement at The University of Waikato’s Hillcrest campus. It connects past and present generations in a central hub formed from mass timber rafters, honouring the sites ancient forest heritage.

We partnered with the University of Waikato, Jasmax and Architectus to bring The Pā project to life. The project celebrates academic excellence and cultural heritage, transforming university life for students and the community.

The Pā, featuring a stunning Glulam laminated timber structure, is one of New Zealand’s largest mass timber buildings. Collaborating with students, staff, and iwi, we designed a space to encompass an 800-seat conference area, retail outlets, and facilities for the Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Studies. The design emphasises natural light and outdoor connections, fostering well-being and learning. The Vice Chancellor’s office and University Council chambers upstairs provide a visible connection between leadership and student identity. 

Beca played a pivotal role in overcoming design challenges, detailing the world leading mass Glulam roof elements, hiding complex connections and bracing, resolving geometry, integrating a hidden network of mechanical services, and implementing seismic strengthening within an active campus. 

Cultural timber elements were delivered by carvers under Renata Te Wiata (Tainui master carver) and weavers under Te Puhi Ariki Nga wai hono i te po Paki, James Schuster (ONZM), and Cathy Schuster. These works express place-based narratives, making The Pā a landmark of pride and progress for the University of Waikato.


  • Te Kāhui Whaihanga New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA) Waikato/Bay of Plenty – Education and Resene Colour Award

  • Gold Award for Education – New Zealand Master Builders Awards

  • 2024 Property Council New Zealand Property Industry Awards - Colliers Project Leaders Education Property Award, Best in category

    Images by Simon Devitt


Multifunctional space area


Iconic Timber Roof structure


Seating capacity

The Pā is a multi-use cultural and teaching building at The University of Waikato, featuring a Wharenui, Student Hub, and University offices.
The northern elevation and cantilever roof of the Pa provides shelter and circulation for users.
The central student hub and stage provide one of the regions most iconic venues for conference, graduation ceremonies and cultural events
A view of the connector tower steps looking back upto the Pa roof. the project connects the upper and lower University with access for both able bodied and those with mobility challenges
Adjacent to the Wharenui is the northern circulation corridor which provides place for quiet study, meetings or simply enjoying campus life
The Pā is a multi-use cultural and teaching building at The University of Waikato, featuring a Wharenui, Student Hub, and University offices.

Our team says...

The Pā was an epic design project involving our most experienced designers. Its unique detailing and layered nature required a relationship-centric approach. We aimed to understand the client’s vision and leave a positive legacy.

Sean Gledhill

Beca’s Project Director and lead Structural engineer

Our client says...

We commend Beca for their unwavering commitment to quality and collaboration throughout the duration of The Pā project. Their expertise, innovation, and proactive approach have undoubtedly contributed to the success of this endeavor.

Professor Alister Jones

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of Waikato

Our People

Mark Preston

Technical Director - Building Services

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Sean Gledhill

Technical Director - Structural Engineering

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