Cultural treasure unveiled in central Ōtautahi

Today’s grand opening of Tūranga shows what can be achieved when local iwi play a lead role in city design.

Ngāi Tūāhuriri – the local Ngāi Tahu hapū that is mana whenua for the city – heavily influenced the design and build of Tūranga. This was led by Matapopore Charitable Trust cultural advisors alongside Christchurch City Council and resulted in a library experience that clearly reflects Ngāi Tūāhuriri and Ngāi Tahu values.

“The stories of Ngāi Tahu and Ngāi Tūāhuriri are expertly woven into Ōtautahi’s new central library, and this is something we should all be proud of,” said Lynne Te Aika, trustee of the Matapopore Charitable Trust (and Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu General Manager, Te Taumatua).

“Through this and other anchor projects, the Matapopore Charitable Trust is leading the way in showing how indigenous culture, values and language can – and should – be part of city design,” she said.

“Tūranga is a storehouse of knowledge for the city. It conveys a sense of mātauranga Māori and is a great example of how we are working to achieve an intergenerational transfer of a strong, vibrant Ngāi Tahu culture. In places like Tūranga, rangatahi can see the stories of their whakapapa reflected in their city.”

Cultural highlights include:

  • Naming of building – Tūranga, on the East Coast of the North Island, is the homeland of Ngāi Tahu ancestor Paikea and a name that carries considerable responsibility. It speaks of whakapapa across generations and connections throughout Aotearoa and beyond. Tūranga is depicted on the west-facing wall of the library building in the artwork “Tūhara” created by Riki Manuel and Morgan Mathews-Hale.
  • Architectural design – Mana whenua interests are embedded into every aspect of the building, including the open ground floor welcoming people in from Whitireia, the golden façade reflecting the changing colours and lights on the hills and ranges surrounding Ōtautahi, and spatial gestures of the roof terraces and glazed frontage that looks towards Kā Tiritiri o Te Moana in the west.
  • Various artworks in the building – Artwork visually displays Ngāi Tahu and Ngāi Tūāhuriri values, with contributions from Riki Manuel, Morgan Mathews-Hale, Ranui Ngarimu, Areta Wilkinson, Fayne Robinson and Caleb Robinson.
  • Bilingual signage – Te reo Māori is present throughout the building and given prominence where appropriate including in the naming of key spaces.

Ms Te Aika acknowledged Ngāi Tūāhuriri, the Matapopore Charitable Trust team and the many artists who contributed right from the inception of this project.

“Mō tātou, ā, mō kā uri ā muri ake nei – Ngāi Tahu is proud to shape the future of Ōtautahi. This is just the beginning. We look forward to more opportunities for our culture and history to be expressed throughout the city.”