A striking white ngutu – or ceremonial entranceway – will greet visitors at Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre.
Called Te Aika, which means ‘the home people’ (te aika is a Ngāi Tahu version of te ahi kā: ‘the home fires burning’), the aluminium artwork recognises the mana of local hapu, Ngāi Tūāhuriri.
Inspired by the southern maihi, or diagonal bargeboards, on whare on the bank of the Horotueka (Cam River), the design also reflects other influences.
These include the kōtuku, a good omen; karanga weaving imagery as a tribute to Ngāi Tūāhuriri wāhine; the kahu huruhuru – or cloak – as a symbol of welcome, warmth, mana and protection; and Te Ao Mārama, or world of life and light (wisdom and understanding).
Designed by Rachael Rakena and Simon Kaan, the work will be produced by SCAPE Public Art in collaboration with Matapopore.
“The ngutu design is based on the whare of Aperehama Te Aika, which was located at Kaiapoi near where the former Kaiapoi Woollen Mills site is today and sketched by Charles Haubroe in 1855,” Matapopore trustee Lynne-Harata Te Aika said.
Artist Simon Kaan shared that public artworks “have the ability to help inform a collective understanding of place and its people”.
“That is our hope for Te Aika,” he said.
Those attending events at Te Pae will gather at Te Aika for cultural ceremonies. They will be welcomed into the venue through the entranceway.
Construction of the Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre is expected to be completed by mid-2021.