John Scott Works is a personal visual response to the work of acclaimed New Zealand architect John Scott. Photographer David Straight explores the essence of Scott’s work – from intimate images of architectural details and moments, to ideas rooted in te ao Māori which are found in Scott's work. It is a celebration of one of New Zealand’s most important architects and a timely acknowledgment not only of his buildings but also his place within our wider cultural context.

The exhibition John Scott Works coincides with the launch of a large-scale publication of the same title published by Massey University Press which will be released in March. The book and the exhibition at Objectspace are designed by Catherine Griffiths.


John Scott was born in Haumoana, Hawkes Bay in June 1924. Scott’s mother, Kathleen Hiraani Blake was of English, Irish, and Māori descent, with links to Te Atiawa iwi of Taranaki and his father Charles Scott, of Scottish and Māori descent, was born at Ohinemutu in Rotorua

Scott was a regional modernist, an architect who responded to people and land. His architecture was not about the monumental, or the ego, but more about people and how they lived in and used space, it is a humane, humble and subtle form of architecture, immensely intelligent, playful and clever.

The way Scott combined his mix of Māori and European ancestry into his buildings is one of the standout features of a very New Zealand form of architecture.

As Hana Scott writes, “It was only natural that JC explored who he was through past and present observations and proceeded to confidently challenge and translate them into what he knew, as built form.

From looking at his buildings, one can see that he developed a set of design protocols or Tikanga derived from a matrix of beliefs of both Māori and European concepts, tangible and intangible, and confidently bound them together. The manifestation of those ideas can be seen across his body of work as a solid framework that was ever evolving.”

He died in July 1992 following heart complications.

David Straight was born in Christchurch, raised on the West Coast, and graduated from Massey University School of Fine Arts, Wellington. He is a photographer whose work focuses primarily on architecture and the built environment.

While living in London and New York, where he interned at Magnum Photos, David’s street photography and habit of walking and exploring sharpened his appreciation of the impact of architecture and urban design on our everyday lives. David now works with many leading New Zealand architects. His previous book, in collaboration with friend and landscape designer Philip Smith, was Vernacular: The Everyday Landscape of New Zealand (Potton & Burton, 2015). David now lives in Auckland.

Futuna Chapel, John Scott, 1958-1961. Image: David Straight.

Rowe House, John Scott, 1977-78. Image: David Straight.

Interior, Aniwaniwa Visitor Centre, John Scott, 1970-1976. Image: David Straight.