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Constructure directors Cory Bedford (left) and James Knight inspect one of the spectacular homes they are working on at Tara Iti

Exclusive golf course provides dream project for construction industry

One of the country’s most exclusive golf courses, Tara Iti, has created some dream opportunities for the New Zealand architects, engineers and builders who are fortunate enough to be involved in this unique development.

The golf course is the brainchild of American investor Richard Kayne who fell in love with the area in 1996 and who engaged famed course designer Tom Doak and Queenstown-based landscape architect John Darby to develop a course for his family and friends.

One of the country’s most exclusive golf courses, Tara Iti lies on the coast near Mangawhai, about 90 minutes north of Auckland, and was last year ranked sixth in the world by Golf Digest, the highest ever entry for a new facility.

Richard Kayne soon recognised that Tara Iti was too special to keep for himself and opened the doors to other members, who are carefully selected by Jim Rohrstaff who manages memberships and real estate on the course. And the real estate is impressive, in design and size.

The first golf ball was hit on the new course in 2015 and the state-of-the-art facilities to host members were completed at the end of last year. These facilities include a stunning club house, a concierge building, a golf training room, a gymnasium and the magnificent Ocean Suites for guest accommodation.

Top-end, high-spec materials

Jerry Johnson has been running the Tara Iti development company on behalf of the owner and says that the central section of the development is nearly complete, “aside from an office and some landscaping”, and that the focus has moved to the residential properties around the course.

Mr Johnson says his team feel privileged to be involved in the development because every property at Tara Iti is “the next level up”.

“The designs are stunning and we only use top-end, high-spec materials for every part of the homes so I suspect the cost per square metre at this development would be the highest in the country,” he says.

The homes that are currently under construction feature splendid architecture by American, Australian and New Zealand architects, supported by a variety of local contractors.

Enhancing the natural environment

Landscape architect John Darby’s vision for Tara Iti is captured in the design review document which outlines the criteria for the architects, with a strong emphasis on enhancing the natural environment around the golf course. The design parameters, including the colour pallets and planting choices, are all carefully captured to ensure the homes fit perfectly into the coastal dune landscape.

Once the Tara Iti design review committee provides its feedback on the concept design, the architects develop the design to a more detailed level before it can be signed off by the committee.

The homes are built from structural steel and in-situ concrete, with rib-raft foundations anchored by deep structural loading points 

Leading Auckland architect John Irving has designed several of the private properties in the Mangawhai dunes, as well as the guest cottages, concierge building and the health studio, working closely with the New Zealand company Constructure who provide the structural engineering expertise.

Two of the homes are the Owner’s Cottage and the Harakoa House. John Irving designed the Owner’s Cottage around a driftwood concept. Seemingly all roof, this home features a weathered cedar slatted ceiling over a translucent roof.

Constructure director James Knight says the dimensions of that roof, and some of the other bespoke and open plan spaces created at Tara Iti, require a level of engineering that is more appropriate for commercial buildings. “This coastline can experience some very high winds and even cyclones, so it has required a significant level of design work to ensure these buildings are well anchored to the ground,” he says. “The architect’s designs bring to mind sails or kites, but we don’t want them to take off!”

From exquisite concept To reality

Once the architectural and structural design work is completed, Jerry Johnson’s hand-picked construction teams get on the tools to turn the exquisite concepts into reality.

All 46 of the precious available lots in the first stage have been sold, many to US-based individuals and some to New Zealand-based owners, and 27 lots have already received their titles. Three homes are currently under construction, with three more that started in August and three more scheduled early next year.

Mr Johnson enjoys working on the Tara Iti development, saying it is a world away from building the standard Kiwi homes he built in his younger years. “The construction techniques are similar to what we’ve used in the past, but it is really interesting working with the different patterns and different ideas that the overseas architects come up with,” he says.

Construction is centred around structural steel, in-situ concrete and rib-raft foundations, with the homes seemingly floating on sand and anchored by deep structural loading points.

Mr Johnson says that the sizeable investment and high expectations from the client demand strong communication as the construction progresses. “The client and architects are very specific about every detail, and every day we will discuss small tweaks to the design to get everything perfect to the millimetre,” says Mr Johnson, who adds that the final stage may take another 10 years to be completed.

Constructure’s James Knight says that Tara Iti projects have been some of the ‘coolest’ his team have been working on in recent years and he is looking forward to the other stunning designs that are in the pipeline for this amazing golf course.


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