Where they are now – Deme Shortland

January 15, 2024

Dilworth alumni Deme Shortland is on the fast-track to architectural success thanks to hard work, talent and the unwavering support of his Dilworth art and design teachers.

As his first year of architectural studies at the University of Auckland wraps, the aspiring designer has just been awarded not one, but two sought-after scholarships – the RTA Studio Scholarship for Māori Architecture Students and the Jasmax Scholarship for Māori and Pacific Students. In addition to significant financial support, these scholarships offer invaluable pathways into the professional world with annual internships throughout the duration of the five-year master’s programme.

Deme hopes they will also serve as a framework to connect other Māori and Pacific students in his cohort to those who are already blazing a trail in the industry.

“I don’t just want this for myself – I am very passionate about brown excellence, and I want to use these scholarships to also benefit other brown people in my year level,” says Deme (Ngāti-hine and Ngāpuhi), who graduated from Dilworth in 2022 with a Staples Education Foundation Scholarship and a Pacific Excellence Scholarship.

He is proud of his achievements, but says without Dilworth, they wouldn’t have been possible.

“I don’t believe I would be in this position of success without the six years I spent at Dilworth. The school has done so much for me; it has given me so much support and inspired me to always strive for excellence. I used to think I’d become a fashion designer, but my teachers opened my mind to new opportunities and pushed me to break boundaries in terms of how I design. There are so many different paths creative students can travel down, and at Dilworth the teachers supported each of us to find our own way.”

It was Deme’s Year 13 scholarship project that cemented his decision to pursue architecture.

“I designed a community centre that had Pacific and Māori traditional features woven through it – I love the idea of implementing culture within my designs.”

It was a perfect first step into a career pathway that will enable him to combine his creative talents with his passion for indigenous culture.

“Eventually I would love to design community and educational facilities, but through a Māori and Pacific lens.”

And one thing is for certain – whatever buildings the future architect does design, his friends, teachers and staff from Dilworth will be cheering him on from the sidelines.

“To me Dilworth is like a family, a brotherhood. We are connected for life.”