Ngā Kōhatu Mauri named

Reihana Parata, Priscilla Cowie and Morehu Flutey-Henare stand with one of their tukutuku panels in the new ECan building in Christchurch.

Reihana Parata, Priscilla Cowie and Morehu Flutey-Henare stand with one of their tukutuku panels in the new ECan building in Christchurch.

The new Environment Canterbury Regional Council (ECan) headquarters in Christchurch opened yesterday with the naming of eight Ngā Kōhatu Mauri (mauri stones).

Ten Papatipu Rūnanga worked with the council and gifted the mauri stones, which will be placed within the landscaped area at the front of the building. There are eight in total – one each from Kaikōura, Tūāhuriri, Koukourārata, Rāpaki, Wairewa, Ōnuku, and Taumutu, with the eighth one gifted by Arowhenua, Waihao and Moeraki.

Arranged in the night sky formation of Puaka and Matariki, the kōhatu represent the geographical reach of the council’s work and its relationship with Ngāi Tahu.

Tukutuku panels hung on the walls of the Tuia room were also blessed at the event. This is where Tuia, the partnership between Environment Canterbury and Ngāi Tahu will meet. Te Rōpū Tuia, the Tuia governance group, is made up of the chairs of the 10 Papatipu Rūnanga and the Environment Canterbury Commissioners. A joint work programme is supported and advanced by Papatipu Rūnanga representatives, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and Environment Canterbury staff.

The beautiful tukutuku panels were created by Ngāi Tahu artist Priscilla Cowie and weavers Morehu Flutey-Henare and Reihana Parata along with Cavan O’Connell and ECan staff and volunteers from Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.

Dame Margaret Bazley and Tā Mark Solomon opened the formal speeches, prior to the building plaque being unveiled by Prime Minister John Key.
Tā Mark Solomon spoke of the similarities in the Ngāi Tahu and ECan staff experiences in post-earthquake Christchurch. Both had left inner city buildings following the February 2011 earthquake and found temporary accommodation in the suburbs.

“These times were tough,” said Tā Mark.

“We not only had unstable ground, we also had uncertain working condition. But like other organisations in Canterbury. we both remained strong. Our people showed great resolve in getting through their work, and I am always impressed by how both our organisations continued to strive despite the uncertainty.”

He said ECan’s new permanent home was beautiful and light-filled. A place “where we can build for the future”.