A stunning white Ngutu, or ceremonial entranceway, will be a feature of the
Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre. Called Te Aika, which means “the home people”, the artwork recognises the mana of local hapu, Ngāi Tūāhuriri.
Designed by artists Rachael Rakena and Simon Kaan it will be produced by SCAPE Public Art in collaboration with Matapopore, and constructed from aluminium.
Te Aika is a Ngāi Tahu version of the saying, “Te ahi kā”, which translates to “the home fires burning.” The design has been inspired by the distinctive southern maihi, or diagonal bargeboards, on whare on the bansk of the Horotueka (Cam River).
Rakena says the commission was very much a collaboration with Ngāi Tūāhuriri and their aspirations.
“It was important for us as artists to ensure that the outcome reflected their mana and whakapapa of place,” she says.
Kaan says public artworks, if successful, have the ability to help form a collective understanding of a place and its people.
“It has been a great process working together and supporting each other through what is such a complex project. It has been a privilege to work on such a prominent public artwork for Ōtautahi, which we hope Ngāi Tahu whānui and the public of Aotearoa can embrace.
Other influences for the art include: the kōtuku, which is considered 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, which in turn refers to wisdom and understanding.
Matapopore Trustee Lynne-Harata Te Aika says the 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
“Ngāi Tūāhuriri are proud to see a modern-day version of the entranceway replicated in Te Pae’s courtyard design.”
Event visitors will gather at Te Aika for formal cultural ceremonies and be welcomed into the venue through the entranceway.
Te Aika is likely to begin to be installed mid-year. Supported by Creative New Zealand, Te Aika has also received industry sponsorship from Kirk Roberts Engineers, RCP and Beca.
Construction of the $475 million
Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre is expected to be completed by the middle of this year, with events expected to begin in the second half of the year.
Te Pae will have capacity to host up to 2000 delegates for a variety of national and international events across world-class purpose-built facilities including a 1400 seat auditorium, up to 2800 square metres of exhibition space and 24 meeting rooms.