Student Story

Mila Makasini

When Mila Makasini enrolled at Otago Polytechnic at the start of 2018, his ideas around Architecture could best be described as a rough plan.

Mila Makasini Student Story

Almost three years later, at the end of 2020, Mila graduated with a Bachelor of Architectural Studies, a springboard to an interesting two years working in the industry.

Now, Mila has returned to study at Otago Polytechnic | Te Pūkenga, lured by the introduction this year of a Master of Architecture (Professional) degree.

Mila describes the introduction of the Master of Architecture programme as “big”.

The programme is a significant step for those wishing to become a registered architect.

The two-year fulltime (or four-year part-time) on-campus Master’s programme will enable learners to develop advanced knowledge of complex architectural and heritage design opportunities in New Zealand, undertake a major research project, and explore what it takes to create first-class work in a collaborative environment.  

Of Tongan descent, Mila was born in Auckland and moved to Dunedin in the mid-2000s. Having enjoyed  art, design and timber/metal workshops at high school, he had long been interested in a career that blended science and creativity.

“I have a young family, so being able to study architecture here in the South without leaving home was a very real drawcard,” Mila says of his initial decision to enrol in the Bachelor of Architectural Studies, which Otago Polytechnic introduced in 2017 (with specialisations in Architecture Technology and Interior Architecture).

“I feel the Master’s programme is the logical next step in my journey. I’m looking to further navigate my ideas while gaining a more comprehensive understanding of the architectural process – in particular, professional practice”

Mila Makasini

Master of Architectural Studies

“I’m excited to test and challenge my capabilities. The Master’s degree is a key step in the primary pathway to becoming a Registered Architect in New Zealand or Australia, which is a major milestone I’m working toward.”

“It is something we should be proud to have locally. Otago Polytechnic has good connections with the local architectural community as well as the wider construction industry. This is evidenced by the number of graduates who go straight into work.”

On the subject of work, Mila has spent the past two years at leading Dunedin studio McCoy Wixon Architects, where he previously enjoyed an internship while studying for his Bachelor’s.

Winner of a Silver Medal in the 2021 Best Design Awards and, before that, a student design award from the New Zealand Institute of Architects (Southern Branch), Mila has been involved in a variety of interesting projects, ranging from commercial to public, educational, cultural and residential projects.

“My time at McCoy Wixon has been stimulating and rewarding experience. The team there – in particular the Architects/Directors –have always encouraged me to return and study post-grad. They have been very supportive and motivating, which I’m grateful for.

“I’m really excited to return to study,” Mila says.

“The School of Architecture at Otago Polytechnic have worked tirelessly to get this degree across the line – this is an achievement they should all be very proud of.

“From my experience, it is one of the leading institutions for architecture in New Zealand. It already has strengths in both theory/design and in technical/documentation – and now it is offering post-grad research and professional practice.

“This is something I’ll personally advocate as a practicing professional.”

Read more about the Master of Architecture (Professional) programme

Published on 14 Dec 2021

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