Let’s start a stroll through central Christchurch at Victoria Square. After a stoush over the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority’s plans to radically alter the square, a working group did a lot of talking and recommended keeping Victoria Square pretty much as it is. Paths will be modernised and widened, a punt/waka stop will be established and so forth.
The statues of Queen Victoria and Captain Cook and the Bowker Fountain will be retained. And a few Maori elements will be added: a work by a Ngai Tahu artist on a low retaining wall and a significant new Ngai Tahu artwork. There’s a strong desire to say something about the Ngai Tahu signatories of the Treaty of Waitangi.
This is the work of the Matapopere, a charitable trust tasked with “making Ngai Tuahuriri and Ngai Tahu values and stories more visible within this new emerging city”, says general manager Debbie Tikao. It provides cultural, artistic and design advice to Christchurch City Council, Otakaro Ltd and Regenerate Christchurch (Cera’s successors) with the intention to “weave” Ngai Tahu values into the anchor projects.