Opening of Te Arikinui Pullman Hotel Auckland Airport Hotel delivers stunning fusion of cultural and superior design

12 December 2023

After four years in construction, Te Arikinui Pullman Auckland Airport Hotel, one of New Zealand’s most architecturally striking hotels was officially opened today offering travellers a stunning fusion of cultural and superior design just 100 metres from the international terminal at Auckland Airport.

The opening was marked today by several hundred guests attending a karakia (blessing) for the hotel led by Kiingi Tuheitia Pootatau Te Wherowhero VII, mana whenua and leaders of Waikato-Tainui.

The hotel is a 50:50 joint venture between Tainui Group Holdings (TGH) and Auckland Airport.

The name ‘Te Arikinui’ was gifted to the hotel by Kiingi Tuheitia, its meaning is ‘Supreme Ariki’ or ‘Supreme Paramount Chief’.  The hotel’s name reflects its 5-star premium experience and status.

Tukoroirangi Morgan, chair of the executive committee of Waikato-Tainui, said the finished result for the 311-room hotel clearly expresses the significance of this location to the iwi of Tainui waka. 

“Everything from the chiefly name of this hotel to its three-pointed star shape and the unique cultural designs, express the mauri (essence) of this important site for Waikato,” Mr Morgan said.

Auckland Airport Chief Executive, Carrie Hurihanganui, echoed this pride in the hotel as a distinctive new marker at the international gateway to Aotearoa New Zealand and said it will support a thriving aviation precinct that connects travel, employment opportunities and business.

“The project is one part of Auckland Airport’s once-in-a-generation redevelopment programme, set to transform the traveller experience at the airport precinct over the next decade, from a new integrated terminal, transport centre, and smart luggage systems to premium shopping.

“We are very proud to be opening this landmark. We believe Te Arikinui Pullman Auckland Airport Hotel is one of New Zealand’s most unique hotel experiences and a memorable way to start or finish a journey to or from Aotearoa New Zealand,” says Ms Hurihanganui. 

The hotel was underway prior to the pandemic, with construction being delayed during Covid before getting underway again, along with Auckland Airport’s infrastructure development programme.

Te Arikinui Pullman Auckland Airport Hotel will be operated by one of the world’s largest hotel groups, Accor Pacific, creating new jobs for the local area. Around 200 people across the spectrum of guest care, food and beverage, cleaning and concierge will work at the new hotel when it is operating at full capacity.

Accor Pacific CEO Sarah Derry said the opening of the hotel was well timed, with global travel making a strong comeback after the last three years. This hotel will join two other Pullman hotels in Aotearoa, and 18 across the Pacific.

“Leisure and business travellers are back with a strong desire to discover the region. We anticipate vigorous interest and demand for Te Arikinui Pullman Auckland Airport Hotel because the developers and designers have dared to dream what can be achieved by bringing together the best of culture and design,” she said.

The hotel was designed by Warren and Mahoney Architects to complement their previous work on the Novotel Auckland Airport hotel that sits some 50 metres to the east of Te Arikinui Pullman Auckland Airport Hotel.

Both hotels are shaped by the design theme of Sea to Sky - inspired by the journey of adventure and discovery by the people of Tainui waka following their arrival at Manukau Harbour around 1350.  

Jonathan Hewlett, a Principal of Warren and Mahoney, said the hotel responds to the demand from travellers seeking authentic, personalised experiences that reflect the local culture and can’t be found anywhere else.

“The hotel’s unique design is a tribute to key geographic sites of significance associated with the journey of Tainui waka, while materiality and form throughout reference the cultural and historical wealth of Aotearoa and draw inspiration from the local environment,” he says.

Kiingitanga, celestial voyages, stories of great taniwha, and references to ancient and precious korowai are the inspiration for cultural design patterns created for Te Arikinui Pullman Auckland Airport Hotel.  

Designed by Renata Te Wiata (Tuurangawaewae Marae), the patterns feature throughout the hotel in a range of materials including aluminium, stone, wall fabric, glass and timber.

Key interiors were designed by Space Studio including the guest rooms, level nine’s Te Kaahu restaurant, bar, executive club, and meeting rooms.  

The guest rooms embrace superior design and premium experience in a way that emphasises simplicity, comfort, and light, while the full height windows of the signature Te Kaahu restaurant on level nine capture extensive views of the Manukau Harbour as well as the runways of Auckland Airport. 

The hotel also incorporates a number of sustainability features such as a high-performance ‘thermal envelope’ to reduce energy demands, energy efficient lighting, use of FSC-certified timber throughout and recycled materials where these can be seamlessly integrated.