top of page


te Whare - Lake Tarawera  is architect Fred Stevens' own home, built on a property he purchased in 1985 when he was looking for somewhere special to realise his architectural dream.  te Whare - Lake Tarawera  was conceived in 1986 - 100 years following the eruption of Mount Tarawera in 1886.

Fred Stevens has built the house entirely on his own as a "weekend project"- many weekend in fact! More than 35 years later it is still under construction with new additions added regularly as his creative mind continues to conceive and build on his original vision.

te Whare - Lake Tarawera is a unique journey in architecture that responds directly to the special qualities of AOTEAROANew Zealand.


1986 - present

                         te Whare - Lake Tarawera

                  "terraces in the long white cloud"


e Whare – Lake Tarawera is the culmination of a 30+ year journey to create, design and solely build an architecture that responds directly to the uniqueness of Aotearoa New Zealand, and to the uniquely spiritual environment of the sacred mountain and lake, Tarawera. 


The journey began in 1985 after purchasing a section at Lake Tarawera, but it was in 1986 whilst studying architecture at Victoria University in Wellington that te Whare was conceived.


1986 was the 100th anniversary of the eruption of Mt Tarawera in 1886.  The exhibits and images from the memorial exhibition at the National Museum, together with the powerful presence of the mountain and the sense of history and natural beauty experienced from the site overlooking Lake Tarawera towards the dormant volcano, sparked the design process that resulted in the birth of te Whare. 


te whare is a contemporary expression of Maori domestic architecture.

The occasion of arrival and entrance is celebrated in the “whare”. Here a sense of place and history is acknowledged and reinforced; here is a space for accommodating manuhiri (guests) in the traditional Maori way; and here is displayed through carvings and photographs the history of the area together with the family’s whakapapa. This, the “potokomanawa” or “heart” of the house generates the resultant building form and design philosophy.


te Whare - Lake Tarawera is an on-going work of passion, the result of over three decades of design and physical construction, all personally undertaken, with much sweat having been mingled with the earth ……. so much so that the home has assumed a mauri (or life force) to become more than a material commodity, but an inseparable part of the family’s life by providing an enriching environment for both family living and for the professional practice of architecture.


bottom of page