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Nga Whāriki Manaaki + Literature Trail_

Entitled ‘Literary Trail’ and ‘Nga Whāriki Manaaki’, these interventions are components of the Ōtākaro Avon Arts Trail; conceived as a kind of overlay to the new public realm of Christchurch. Simply put, a design process which seeks to articulate the relationship between people and the river. Defined by Ngāi Tahu principles; “Kia atawhai ki te iwi, Be kind to your people” Welcoming citizens back into the recreated city, and; “Unu tai, which waters are you from?” The project embraces the river as a way to differentiate place and identity_

In alternating frequency with literature pieces, the ‘Ngā Whāriki’ are thirteen allegorical weaving mats, translated into durable stone and settled within the promenade at locations intersecting with specific stories, narratives and points of interest. Their position upon the bank varies as if deposited by the Ōtākaro in flood. The Literature and Whāriki installations appear episodically along the river from Antigua Boatsheds to the Margaret Mahy Family Park, responding to a range of idiosyncratic environmental, social and cultural conditions. These features sit within the broader Ōtākaro River Promenade, a consistent urban fabric which follows the course of the river. It reads simultaneously as a continuous journey, and as a series of distinct stand-alone spaces defined by moments of difference, widenings and narrowings in the river, buildings new and old. It is within this choreography that these installations play their part, supporting the new urban precinct in the provision of fine-grain points of interest, orienting visitors and residents, and indelibly recording the history of Ōtautahi upon the ground.

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The project recognises the essential role of Ngāi Tūāhuriri, whose rohe encompasses the Ōtākaro Avon River. The integration of Ngāi Tūāhuriri histories, narratives, values and aspirations has guided the philosophical approach to the whole project. It has recognised the interwoven whakapapa of Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Mamoe and Waitaha through appropriate concept design and development and supported cultural expression by designing and creating works in conjunction with Ngāi Tahu and Ngāi Tūāhuriri experts, artists and designers.

The Literary Trail is a family of text pieces, integrated with the stone ground-plane of the promenade, and inscribed on the vertical face of stone ‘bleachers’ set into the riverbank. Equal parts English and Te Reo, the content of the text has been both selected and commissioned to highlight the nuances of the Ōtākaro riverscape. The relationship between languages is further explored in the contrast of English in a heavy Gotham font, and Te Reo in Raranga – a special font developed by typographer Neil Pardington, in which letter bodies appear hand chiselled.

Location_ Christchurch, New Zaeland
Client_ Ōtākaro Ltd
Date_ 2013-Current
Budget_ $17m
Team_ OPUS + EOS Ecology + E3BW