Blessing of Te Hononga, the new Christchurch Civic Building

11 August

The new Christchurch Civil Building was blessed and named Te Hononga today, with the ceremony led by Reverend Maurice Manawaroa Gray.

Ngāi Tahu kaumātua Ruahine Crofts chose the name shortly before her passing.

The building was named Te Hononga to reflect the unique partnership between Ngāi Tahu and the Christchurch City Council.

Over 270 guests attended the blessing; Ngāi Tahu whānau journeyed from across the takiwā to get to the ceremony, as did others.

Ngāi Tahu was honored to have King Tuheitia Paki and his contingent at the blessing, also the Mayor Bob Parker, local MPs, councillors and other invited guests. The ceremony began with the unveiling of the pouwhenua named Te Pou Herenga Waka, which means the post that brings all the people together.

Fayne Robinson with the assistance of Mahana Coulston and James York carved the pou which depicts three levels of tribal settlement in Canterbury: Waitaha, Ngāti Mamoe and Ngāi Tahu.

Also blessed was the Tuhituhi Whenua mural on the Hereford street side, designed by Ngāi Tahu artist Ross Hemera.

Finally, Reverend Gray blessed the pounamu mauri stone named Ngā Wai o Mamari; an old term for the upper reaches of the Arahura River. The mauri stone was gifted by Ngāti Waewae.

All the cultural elements at Te Hononga have a plaque each, which explains the historical and contextual significance of the item so that visitors can gain an appropriate understanding.

The transformation of the old mail centre into Te Hononga was a $113 million joint-venture project between Ngāi Tahu Property and the Christchurch City Council.

The chairman of the joint-venture board, Gill Cox, said the building had been transformed from its original industrial state into a stylish home for the council.

Earlier this year, the New Zealand Green Building Council awarded Te Hononga a Six Green-Star rating, the highest score awarded to a New Zealand building so far.

Ngāi Tahu Kaiwhakahare Mark Solomon said the development of Te Hononga was an example of how iwi-public joint ventures could help deliver the new infrastructure the Government required for the country.