We value the ideas young people have for making their environment more awesome. By using design to engage taitamariki we hope to walk alongside them from exclusion, to inclusion, to greatness.

Learn more about us

Our Process

How, exactly?

We create opportunities for youth to be involved in the design of REAL projects in their community through our workshops. We empower taitamariki to harness the creativity of atua, like Māui, developing their innate problem solving power to solve issues big and small – whether that’s how to get to class or how to slow down the sun.

Our Education Values

To us, ĀKAU is the place where water meets land. This kaupapa underpins our education values.

Wai – be fluid!

Every young person learns differently; we encourage this. We’re light enough in our approach that we continually adapt what we do to make a bigger impact.

Whenua – be grounded!

We believe in our taitamariki – their skills, creativity and passions. We talk to those strengths and look for ways to design projects with an outcome that can add value to the places we live.

Tūtaki – connect!

A human connection is the first step; the first meeting point. We develop a deep understanding of our taitamariki and their world. Then we connect them with people, places and ideas.


Our Programmes

ĀKAU Futures!

ĀKAU Futures! enhances other education programmes by captivating, inspiring and building skills with taitamariki who are showing early signs of disconnecting with education. Taitamariki are immersed in a range of design experiences and challenges that allow them to expand their minds about education. They're involved in tangible projects that have real impact for taitamariki, their whānau and their community.

ĀKAU Leaders!

ĀKAU Leaders! is our youth internship programme that provides opportunity for taitamariki to develop their skills, experiences and connections through contributing to the ĀKAU kaupapa. Learning to be an ĀKAU facilitator, working on real projects within the studio and mentoring by professionals are all available to our taitamariki on this programme.

ĀKAU Professionals!

ĀKAU runs events and programmes to connect creative professionals in the design and architecture industries with taitamariki around Aotearoa. Interested in working with taitamariki – mentoring, collaborating and learning? Sign up to our network here.

ĀKAU Communities!

ĀKAU works with different organisations to help them authentically engage taitamariki and community in the design of real projects. Whether you’re a school, local council, iwi, community group or business we can create awesomeness together. Some of the organisations we’ve worked with include: Far North District Council, Te Hau Ora o Ngāpuhi, Creative Northland, Ministry for Primary Industries, Sports Northland, Northland College and Kaikohe Intermediate School. Find out more here!