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New Zealand Institute of Architects

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What is an architect?

In Aotearoa, the term 'architect' can only be used by registered professionals

Imperial Buildings by Fearon Hay.

At Te Kāhui Whaihanga New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA), we’re often asked whether a particular person is, or isn’t, an architect. Many times, the people asking these questions are clients who have engaged – or are thinking of engaging – a design professional.

And we can understand the confusion. Sometimes it’s not clear whether a person offering architectural services is, in fact, an architect.

So, to clear things up: the term architect has a specific, legal definition:

By law, a person may call themselves an architect only if they are ‘registered’ as such by the New Zealand Resigistered Architects Board (NZRAB).

The NZRAB is a statutory body that sets and supervises professional standards. It determines whether graduates, architects who have been trained and who might be registered overseas, and people with other relevant qualifications and experience, are entitled to call themselves ‘architects’ in New Zealand.

If the NZRAB decides a person meets the criteria for registration, that person may legally call him or herself an architect. If the NZRAB decides a person does not meet the criteria for registration, that person may not legally call him or herself an architect.

You can find out whether a person is an architect by going to the NZRAB website and checking the list of all New Zealand registered architects.

Note that the NZIA and NZRAB are different entities. The NZIA is an organisation representing New Zealand architects (and architecture students and graduates). The NZRAB is the statutory body charged with upholding professional standards.