EPISODE SUMMARY: On this episode of Indigenous Urbanism, we travel to Ōtautahi Christchurch to see how Ngāi Tahu and Ngāi Tūāhuriri are working with the City, designers and developers to reveal and rebuild a world leading, authentic, post-colonial city of the future.
GUESTS: Joseph Hullen, Te Marino Lenihan, Piri Cowie, Jo Petrie, Debbie Tikao, Te Aritaua Prendergast
Jade Kake v/o: Ru ana te whenua - the earth starts to tremble. Rūaumoko must be stirring. At the time that the sky father Ranginui was separated from the earth mother Papatūānuku, they had an unborn child, Rūaumoko, who was still inside his mother’s womb. Today he remains there, sometimes moving and turning. And when he moves, the earth shakes.
The earthquakes that shook Christchurch in 2010 and 2011 were a traumatic series of events causing death and extreme adversity. But out of the wreck of what was Christchurch, a new city is being planned, and local iwi Ngāi Tahu have had a prominent role in the process. It has been seen as a chance to build, more or less from scratch, a post-colonial city, inclusive of everyone; and with a strong recognition of the mana whenua of local hapū, Ngāi Tūāhuriri.
Joseph Hullen: Kia ora everybody. We’ve stopped here for a couple of reasons. From my perspective, across the river is the Pita Te Hori centre. Pita Te Hori was the first Ūpoko Rūnanga of Ngāi Tūāhuriri. The Pita Te Hori Centre is a Ngai Tahu properties development.
JK v/o: That was Joseph Hullen. Joseph Hullen works for Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, is involved in a range of environmental and ecological projects, and is a Trustee for Matapopore Trust. And today, Joseph was our tour guide on a walking tour around Christchurch City. As part of our tour, we paused at the terraces on the banks of the Avon Ōtākaro river, opposite the Pita Te Hori centre.
JH: I was talking a little bit earlier about stormwater treatment, and flowing into the river. So during the application for consents and stuff, in consultation with Ngāi Tūāhuriri, Ngāi Tahu properties understood that they needed to treat all of their stormwater onsite, before it goes into the plumbed stormwater network, and flows into the river. So it was a case of Ngāi Tūāhuriri and Ngāi Tahu walking the walk, and talking the talk. So, when the rōpū kaitiaki, when Ngāi Tūāhuriri representatives sit in on consent applications, give consultation to developments, one of the things we ask for is - wherever possible - stormwater is treated onsite, and then, in it's own way, that benefits the resource, the awa, improved water quality means improved values, and improved mahinga kai. The other part of it, we’re trying to normalise that whole kaitiakitanga aspect when it comes to development in the CBD. And so we’re trying to normalise that whole, be responsible for your own stuff onsite, and normalising that, in the same way we’re trying to normalise the language.
Te Marino Lenihan: You’re sitting on the terraces and part of the vision is greater engagement between people and our river.
That was Te Marino Lenihan, a Ngāi Tūāhuriri cultural landscape consultant who has worked extensively for his hapū and iwi in Ōtautahi.
TML: Part of the vision is to host things on that side of the river, have people over here enjoying the sunshine, the seating arrangement. And so, further to what I was saying before about language and the use of language, we've put a little message over there into the steps. It's taken from a Māori land court session in 1879, when Wiremu Te Uki, I think my great-great grandfather's brother, older brother, presented evidence, and we started to claim all our mahinga kai sites in the city. We we weren't so successful. But what he said was, "the name of this river is Ōtākaro," and it says "nōku te awa" - "it belongs to me." What we haven't said here is, the next thing he said was, "nō ōku tūpuna." So basically saying, "this is our spot." And this is the reason why we get it, it's because we get our fish out of here. Unfortunately they said, sorry Māori mā, it's already been sold. So we just remind ourselves of those stories by putting those messages back into the landscape.
Piri Cowie: Tēnā koutou, I just thought I might tautoko the kōrero.
JK v/o: That was Ngai Tahu artist Piri Cowie. Piri has been involved in bringing Ngāi Tahu narratives to life visually in many of the projects in post-earthquake Christchurch.
PC: One of our other projects that we worked on, in the Pita Te Kori Centre, which you can see across there, is a sculpture called Kirihao. Hao is a Ngāi Tahu word for eel. Kiri is your skin. But it talks about, somebody who's thick-skinned or tenacious, and who's resilient. The name of the sculpture if you see through there is called Kirihao, resilience. But it's a reminder of the connection to our awa here, to our tuna, to mahinga kai, but also just for us, that we belong here, and to be an tenacious as our tuna.
JK v/o: The walking tour that we went on takes participants on a journey through a number of locations throughout Christchurch City. This is a guided tour, led by Matapopore Trust, of everything from integrated artworks brought to life by Ngāi Tūāhuriri and Ngāi Tahu artists, to the influence on Ngāi Tūāhuriri on urban design.
Tēnā koutou katoa
Nau mai haere mai ki te Indigenous Urbanism, Aotearoa Edition, Episode Twenty-One.
I’m your host Jade Kake and this is Indigenous Urbanism, stories about the spaces we inhabit, and the community drivers and practitioners who are shaping those environments and decolonising through design.
On this episode of Indigenous Urbanism we travel to Ōtautahi Christchurch to see how Ngāi Tahu and Ngāi Tūāhuriri are working with the City, designers and developers to reveal and rebuild a world leading, authentic, post-colonial city of the future.
Now, let’s continue on with our tour. The next stop: Te Omeka Justice and Emergency Services Precinct.
TML: We’re just going to do a leg that way for a block to the Justice Precinct, to see a bit of stunning work from Lonnie Hutchinson and other beautiful artists, and then back around that side, back to where we started from.
JK v/o: That was Te Marino Lenihan again.
Jo Petrie: Kia ora koutou, tuatahi ki te whānau o Ngāi Tūāhuriri. He hoaka me he mahi kaihoaka he mahi kaitakata. Tēnā koutou. Ko Jo ahau. Ko Te Rarawa te iwi, ko Ngāi Tahu te iwi āku tamariki. Tēnā koutou.
JK v/o: That was Jo Petrie. Jo is a communications specialist, and a consultant on the Justice and Emergency Services Precinct project.
JP: Kia ora everyone, I’m Jo, it's an honour and a privilege to do work for my friends at Ngāi Tūāhuriri. It's been a really good project, the Justice precinct. So this is one of the main artworks, there's about eight throughout the precinct, some are on the inside. This one was quite a hard sell out of all of them, there were quite a lot of opportunities. This one was one of the bigger ones. So it represents a korowai, a cloak, made out of metal feathers. The feathers have been anodised, each one individually in a drum, and suspended and sprayed. So there's a functional purpose as well, and that is to let the air circulate into the carpark behind it. It was sort of a difficult thing to get just the right amount of air flowing through. So that's the functional purpose as well. Down on the ground as a whāriki. So as this grows, the garden here will form those tāniko patterns. To complement the kākahu up top. And the last sort of stage of it, that will hopefully happen quite soon, is lighting. It will be lit at night. So there was a test done recently, and it's quite striking, like, probably more so at night, when it's lit, and if it's lit well, which it will be. So, yeah, this is piece number one. This project started probably about six years ago, and Te Marino can tell us more about that, so the opportunity was obviously created by the earthquake, and then there were some smart people, Tasha and Te Marino, who opened the door. I don't know what they did, but by the time the rest of us got in there, the door was well and truly open. So, the mission then, was there were a lot of possible places throughout the precinct that we could integrate art. So the mission really then was how much could we do, with the restraints that we had. So the restraints being budget, and team. There was two artists, Tūī, the arts advisor, and myself. So, we just went to work to try to maximise as much as we could get in, within those constraints.
JH: The Justice precinct was probably the worst one for us to work on because we came into the project so late. So the design had already started before mana whenua engagement.
JK v/o: That’s Joseph Hullen again.
JH: So as Jo said it was a hard sell getting some of our artworks embedded within the Justice Precinct itself. The concept of the kākahu, is the laying down of the kākahu over somebody to come under the authority of the owner. So, that whole thing about rangatiratanga, and also about the support of the iwi, or about the support of the law. So as you can see, I mean it's a stunning example, it was a case where the design once it had been agreed to, broke down the barriers about consultation with mana whenua - there can be some great outcomes out of it. This was one of them. And the tāniko patterns, the wefts and the feathers, combine stunningly in more than just the horizontal plane, or the vertical plane, but the the horizontal and around the corner. So, you know, a three dimensional artwork.
JK v/o: Matapopore Trust - our hosts for the walking tour - emerged during the Christchurch rebuild process as a vehicle to ensure Ngāi Tūāhuriri and Ngāi Tahu values, aspirations and narratives were appropriately realised within the recovery. We spoke with Debbie Tīkao, a landscape architect of Cherokee and Pākehā descent, and the General Manager of Matapopore Trust.
Debbie Tikao: Kia ora koutou, ko Debbie Tikao toku ingoa, I’m the General Manager of Matapopore Charitable Trust. I’m also a landscape architect, and mother of two beautiful little girls.
JK v/o: The reason it’s a bit noisy is because I spoke with Debbie during the break at the Urbanism NZ conference in Wellington, where Debbie was one of the presenters.
JK: Now the reason I’ve asked to speak with you today is because of the really exciting and visionary work you're doing with Matapopore Trust in Ōtautahi. And I'm wondering if you could tell me a little about what is Matapopore Trust, how did it come about, why does it exist?
DT: Okay, Ngai Tahu were identified a strategic partner within recovery, along with the Crown and Council, and also ECAN at that time. And they developed a list of objectives that they wanted to see within the future rebuild. One of those objectives really related to the building of identity for Ngāi Tahu and Ngāi Tūāhuriri. So, in order to do that, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu went to Ngāi Tūāhuriri, who hold mana whenua over the central city, and asked for them to actually lead that process. And they developed, initially a steering group, Matapopore. They then set Matapopore, the steering group, up as actually a charitable trust. And we had the job of ensuring that that identity was realised in the city.
JK: Now, I was recently in Christchurch and I went on a wonderful tour through some of the projects you've been involved with, and particularly Te Omeka and Tākaro-ā-Poi. And I was just wondering if you could tell me a little bit more about those two projects.
DT: Probably the first point I want to make, is that all the projects we're involved in are all connected through narrative. So there's an overriding story that we're weaving throughout the city. So each project relates to the other projects.
JK: So none are in isolation.
DT: None are in isolation. And it's not really until you actually go on one of those tours that you, or go for a walk around, that you really experience and get a sense of what it is that we're doing. If you look at any one element, or any one piece, or any one project, it's beautiful and it's fantastic, but it's not until you get a sense of them all together as a collective, that you realise there's something quite incredible that's happening here. You know, and it all relates back to storytelling.
So Tākaro-ā-Poi is at the base of that narrative. We're telling two stories - one, based on mahinga kai and the other, really about our migration stories. So, we had an artist, Piri Cowie, involved in that project and she did a beautiful job, she worked on a number of projects. With Tākaro-ā-Poi, by embedding our stories into that playground through predominantly art elements, we're trying to, I suppose, educate our kids. And so our kids have got that strong connection to, or get to learn more about their stories, their migration stories, and also have that stronger connection to the natural environment, and familiarise themselves with concepts such as mahinga kai.
JK: And engage in a way that's meaningful and natural to them.
DT: And through play. So, you know. So there's a story arc, and within that story arc there's a lot of images that they'll be familiar with. A lot of images about, I suppose, species, some from Pacific islands, that connect Aotearoa to the Pacific islands. There are images of waka. There's also images of European vessels. So, it's all of our migration stories. And, there's also waiata. So the kids can actually, you know, there are songs that they can sing, that they'll be familiar with. It's also very much about the language. You know, having a language - te reo Māori - within our play environments, within the urban environment, by making that more accessible, it's really so that our kids, when they're out there playing, potentially are going to feel more comfortable using and speaking te reo. Cause often, they only really speak it on the marae, or at school where they're learning it. So, it's really encouraging them to speak it, when they see it out there, to know that they can speak it out there too.
JK v/o: We asked Debbie about Te Omeka Justice and Emergency Services Precinct.
DT: That project, we actually came into that project quite late. It was interesting listening to Rebecca Kiddle, she called Lonnie Hutchinson's beautiful kākahu, what did she call it? Brown -
JK: The sexy brown.
DT: Sexy brown.
JK: I saw that two of Lonnie's projects, and I was like, oh my god.
DT: Yeah yeah yeah. I don't think Lonnie's going to mind her work being called sexy brown. But, I don't know that I totally actually agreed with what she was saying, because we are storytellers, and a lot of the way that we tell stories is in fact through the visual arts. And even though we weren't involved in that project from the conception, and we weren't able to embed those core values into the, I suppose into the guts and the bones of that building, we were able to still provide that narrative on the outside. And that narrative within that, within those stories, there's layers and layers and layers of meaning. You know, so weren't not, you know, it's not just a sexy brown, it's actually also very much educational, it's also layers and layers of knowledge.
JK: And these narratives, as you said, are threaded throughout the city, so it's a part of the urban fabric. So it's not confined to a single site. So even if in some places it just seems like a surface treatment, it doesn’t stand there along, it’s threaded through.
DT: Yep that’s right.
JK: Now I heard a little bit today about the design principles that have been developed, and I thought that was really exciting because I've had a fair bit to do with Te Aranga. And it's quite cool because a lot of the outcome areas are very similar, but it's coming from absolutely that mana whenua perspective and basis, and what's right for the people there. So I'm just wondering if you could tell me a little bit about how they emerged and developed and that process.
DT: They came out of the, I suppose the grand narrative. I suppose one of the very first exercises was to develop the stories that we were going to thread through the city. Once we had those stories from those, we could see that there were a number of main, I suppose kaupapa, that would, that we really needed to explore some more. And so they became the basis of the urban design guidelines. So, we identified five kaupapa. We carried on with the storytelling way to communicate and describe and explain what those kaupapa meant. Because, we want these guidelines to be accessible to everybody, and sometimes we are talking about reasonably complex concepts. So, I suppose our approach to these five kaupapa was more that we would take people on a journey, explain them in a way, and provide a context so they could be grasped more easily, and therefore be more effective. We also provided examples of the types of traditions and concepts that may relate to particular kaupapa, plus also we gave examples of some types of outcomes might be. So they were a starting point for a conversation, for a creative process.
JK: I was there in 2012 when Craig held that symposium, Ōtautahi Revealed, and it was, you know, not too far after the earthquake, and there was all these aspirations of what might be possible. So I guess having come from that point to now, I'm just wondering how you feel about where things are, and the things that have happened since that time.
DT: Well it's been a ride. It's been definitely a journey, a lot of lessons have been learnt along the way. It wasn’t straightforward. From that point, to where we are now, where we actually are delivering on those objectives, you know that path has been an awful lot of work, that's occurred to get to this point. And it hasn't, we didn't have all the answers at the beginning. You know, we had to work through a number of different processes. We tried different things. We worked out that providing cultural advice, pretty much got us nothing. Because what was happening is that, you know, you were really leaving, you were providing information, you were handing over cultural narratives to Pākehā organisations to interpret, and that wasn't getting the results that we wanted to see. It was certainly, you would certainly go part way. What we realised is that we needed to be sitting at the table, working with them in a design capacity. The interpretation of narratives needs to be coming from ourselves. You know, you can't hand that over to others to do. You can work with them, you know, to develop some of those outcomes, but that interpretation needs to really come from ourselves. And we developed a process, and part of that process, particularly for the larger projects, included, I suppose, the preparation or writing of a cultural design strategy, that allowed us to consider what that narrative was, or what element of that narrative we were wanting to really explore through design in relation to the kaupapa, the values identified within the urban design guidelines. We brought two things together, and we applied them to a place or project. And, you know, we also would, part of that process is, we would also look at that cultural context. The cultural context of that land, that landscape, and look at all those connections and start to work through and develop a cultural framework, that we would then develop outcomes from. And so, when you apply a design language, it allows for design teams to understand these concepts, and we were then getting the results, by working with them. And you saw, in one of the presentations, when Tim was talking about the Metro Sports facility, that was probably our first project where we really explored the use of, and the development of, a cultural design strategy, and the outcome of that was really interesting. The designers really got it, they understood. And they were able then to integrate that framework into their design so much more easily, and the end results are so much better, it’s so much more embedded.
JK: Is there anything from your learnings that you do or are able to share with other mana whenua groups who are looking to do similar things in their rohe?
DT: You really need to, you need to develop an organisation, and in that you need to have design professionals as well. Your design professionals. You need to work, you need to team up with those that hold that cultural knowledge as well. The components of what you need may not be housed within the one person. And it's so critical that you've got a robust endorsement process in place. You need to make sure that what outcomes, you need to know that the stories that you're putting out there are the right stories, that you've interpreted those stories correctly.
JK: So the theme of the podcast is Indigenous Urbanism, which is of course extremely relevant to what you do. But basically, do you have any final thoughts on the theme? Or any other whakaaro you'd like to share?
DT: I suppose, I guess just visioning what an urban environment might look like that is a true expression of a Treaty partnership. You know, I think that is something that we all need to aspire to. I think we need to be pushing a lot harder, and I think we need to, I think we need to gear up and we need more Indigenous designers, we need more Indigenous planners, so that we can actually do justice. Because we are stretched. We don't have enough resources to be able to do what we need to be able to do, or capacity. We could be doing so much more, and the work that we do would benefit all. It's not just about Indigenous identity, it's about creating an environment where we are all more connected to the whenua, where we are all more respectful of the whenua, where we can have, where basically at the core, at the core of everything that we do, is the environment, is the natural resources. And if we're looking after those natural resources, then everything else will fall into place. And we would have rivers we can swim, rivers that are full of kai, and much healthier, we would be much healthier as humans, and much closer as whānau. Because we'd be doing more things with the environment, and for the environment. So I think that’s where we need to be heading, that must surely be the future.
JK v/o: We also spoke with Te Aritaua Prendergast nō Ngāi Tahu. Te Ari lives in Tāmaki Makaurau now, but was involved during the early days of the Christchurch rebuild, working alongside others – notably, Ngāi Tahu architect Perry Royal – to ensure iwi perspectives were appropriately considered in the rebuild plans.
Te Aritaua Prendergast: Kia ora. Ko Te Aritaua tōku ingoa, nō Ngāi Tahu me Te Whānau-ā-Apanui, tipu ake au ki Ōtautahi, kei Tāmaki au e mahi anei inaianei ki te kamapenenui o Toa.
JK: I think when I first met you you were working down in Christchurch with Perry Royal in the wake of the earthquake, and you got to be involved in some quite interesting and transformative work early on about how Ngāi Tahu might be involved in the rebuild. And so I just wanted to ask you what that was like at that pivotal point in time, and then maybe ask you to reflect on kind of where we're at now at this point.
TAP: I guess I graduated at a time when Christchurch was still feeling the impacts of the quake. There was still aftershocks, and as far as an industry, many projects had collapsed. So it wasn't a good time to be an architect, or be graduating and looking for work and stuff. So, I was lucky that I had a relationship with Perry Royal.
JK: Alright, so you've graduated, and it wasn't really a great time to be in architecture, and everyone's struggling to kind of recover from what's just happened.
TAP: But I was lucky enough that Perry Royal took me on, and for me it was like, a masterclass in Māori architecture. You know, we had Rewi Thompson popping into the office, and you know, Bill was still around then. So, you know, he was super proud of me graduating, and that meant a huge deal. You know, he like punched me on the shoulder or something like that. You know, just to have these tall tōtara trees to look up to, and work alongside was huge. And we started to kind of agitate that. So Ngāi Tahu had been made a partner in the rebuild, but there was no real vision of what city we actually wanted to rebuild, and there was a fear that if Christchurch gets rebuilt as Little England, it's just us getting colonised all over again. We kind of met with people up the supply chain, and eventually got in front of people like Mark Solomon, and said look, we're architects, we can create a vision that people can get behind. And at the same time, the Blueprint had come out, you know, the idea of probably the biggest urban design project in the history of New Zealand. So to redesign a city is pretty huge, and me and Perry were quite adamant that Ngāi Tahu needed to be involved. It wasn't about us being on any one team. Ngāi Tahu had a seat, and so we were able to fill that seat with, not just us but, you know, we had Ngāi Tahu planners, and lawyers, and environmentalists. So we could match anyone within Council and within CERA, you know, with the same expertise. So it was just the depth within our tribe alone was huge, that we could draw on. So I think that is one of the untold stories of the rebuild, is how we came together as a tribe. And it was more the youth - so we hadn't been involved in the traditional Claims that our parents and grandparents had been involved with. So this was kind of our chance to prove ourselves in battle, but also a worthy cause of rebuilding our city. So, yeah, and that's, I think it's sad that that isn't celebrated enough, the depth of our younger people in our tribe. But yeah, so we managed to get some pretty amazing things in the Blueprint. How that's eventuated, is, hasn't been realised to the level of our aspirations at the time. Obviously you've spoken with Debbie, and you know that some great artworks have been incorporated into buildings, and into landscapes, into spaces. But we had aspirations for buildings to be designed by Ngāi Tahu, not prettied up by Ngāi Tahu. So I think that that's probably where I stand on that.
JK: So you described that some of the, well a lot of the aspirations that were in the original Blueprint and those early plans have not been realised. What would be your future vision for Ōtautahi, and how would you see the city and Ngāi Tahu getting from where we are now, to that future vision?
TAP: Yeah. I think, Victoria Square was quite critical for me. And that started in the Blueprint. It was just a green patch on the plan, at the time, and I was like, well this is the gateway into the central city, and it's the focal point, the heart of the river. So if the river was the backbone of the city, then Victoria Square was like the heart, and the gateway. So, for me, that was critical to the Ngāi Tahu story, and the story of, I mean our ancestors sat on the banks. Not only pre-European times, fishing and catching eels, but also because the Court was there. So, it was where we kind of camped out during the Claim process. And it was also the marketplace where we traded with early settlers. So there's all these overlapping stories of why it's important, and I don't believe that story's really going to be told to the degree that it should be. And that was basically fear from government, fear from the Council, and Ngāi Tahu, to, like. We lacked a real design champion down in Christchurch, like, to push through. Like there was so much public outcry if anything changed, you know, like, so no-one was willing to stick their head out, and champion any good design. So, a lot of the design is just watered down, how can we offend the least people. And that's what's sad. Like, the opportunity to do something great was not politically ideal for most people. Yeah, so I think the river, lots of opportunity there, and there is stories being told. So it's not like there isn't anything there, it's just to the degree and things could have been done, I guess. And obviously there's the Ngāi Tahu cultural centre, which no-one was willing to put a dollar behind, so, that died quite quickly. But that could have been an amazing building and arrival to the cathedral, as an experience within Christchurch. Yeah, it could have been huge.
JK: How do you consider the experiences you've had working with mana whenua cultural narratives in Tāmaki, compared to your experiences in Christchurch?
TAP: I think it's always much harder when you're working with your own. And like, Nick will know. Cause when it cuts, it hurts that much more, and cuts that much deeper. Up here it's an interesting landscape, because the overlapping of the iwi and that, just getting your head around the different dynamics, and the politics. There's always this thing, with, you're not connected to the land cause you're not mana whenua, but, I think once you're connected to a place, you can draw strength from that, no matter where you are in the world. You tread lightly but you're still allowed to walk on that land. And make sure you know, building good relationships with people is probably the most important thing.
JK v/o: You can find out more about Matapopore Trust at matapopore.co.nz.
Indigenous Urbanism Aotearoa Edition is a production of Te Matapihi. Sandy Wakefield does our sound recording, editing, and mixing. Our theme was composed by Thomas Burton. I’m Jade Kake, your host and Executive Producer.
For more information about today’s show and other episodes of Indigenous Urbanism go to indigenousurbanism.net. You can drop us a line at email@example.com. And if you like what you’re hearing, please give us a review or rating on iTunes.
Coming up next on Indigenous Urbanism, In part two of our story on the Ōtautahi rebuild, we look at the work of Ngāi Tahu and Regenerate Christchurch to develop alternative uses for the residential red zone area to the east of the City, including the re-establishment of biodiversity and food gathering areas.
Te Oti Jardine: My tūpuna, my ancestors, we were the first ones to be red zoned. When the settlers came we had to move, and now they came and they built in the place where, our old people said why are they building here? This was our food basket. But, oh no, we'll drain it and build houses. Well, you can see what happened. And, for me, Ruaumoko has given us, has returned the land to us, and given us the opportunity to allow the land to return to its original purpose, which was a mahika kai, where we gathered food.