Ngāti Awa, Tuhourangi
Carin Wilson is famous for his work as a furniture maker, sculptor, design educator, and is of particular note as a leader within the Aotearoa’s craft movement. Noteworthy within his career are solo exhibitions, the origination and development of public and private projects with a cultural focus. His works continue to be inspired by his Māori heritage and personal philosophical and political views. Carin is one of the founding chairmen of Ngā Aho, a design initiative that advocates for collaborative and creative practices among professionals with specific indigenous Māori values.
At the heart of Carin’s work is an exploration of creative processes, his inspiration is drawn from many sources but significantly, American artist, Peter Voulkos whose work is about engagement of the head the hand and the heart. Nothing works unless you can get all of those in sync with each other. Carin understands what it means when they are all working in complete synchronicity...
“time moves into a different dimension, in Māori culture we call that ‘the wa’: it is elastic, a different time, space, and in this compelling zone is how we are supposed to work”.
The Pt Chevalier Square development is a collaboration between Carin Wilson, Bespoke Landscape Architects, Parahaki Engineering Whangarei, Formscan 3D Silverdale and Auckland Council. We were lucky enough to spend some time with Carin firstly helping him install part of the Pt Chev project, and then also to have a beer and discuss the project fully over lunch at his incredible home Pukeruru. This was a perfect setting to experience with such an inspirational and generous person. Carin’s wife Jenney was wonderfully hospitable and put on a delicious feast for us all.
Within the square five sturdy park benches set on rails made from cor-ten steel and sustainable timber are positioned throughout the site. The seats slide back and forth encouraging a playful interaction between site users and add a dynamism of movement into the space. Six sets of cor-ten steel blade sculptures representing harakeke create a subtle barrier between the busy main road and the square. Clusters of engraved rocks are arranged around the site informing the narratives of the local Māori history.
Te Ara Whakapekapeka o Rua Rangi (Tainui figure ), Te Auaunga ( Oakley Creek), Te Waiorea (Western Springs), Te Rae (Pt Chev), The weight of the rocks anchor the narratives to the land.
“it is our job to make sure the stories are told, and we need to be careful that the Colonial history is not the only history”
The Wairaka stream running through Unitec has significant stories that are associated with it, there is a deep history embedded in the land there. Three prominent waka, Arawa, Mataatua, and Tainui, have all been hauled up and anchored in here. The stream is known for being a healing stream and the story’s associated to Te Rae, or Pt Chev as it is now known. The site design recognises and is encouraging an understanding of its history.
“The site is telling a story and is about memory making. When you interact physically with something you create a memory and you come to understand better when you’ve been lead through the knowledge. Physical points to stop pause and be told the history. Identifying with the stories of the landscape this is ‘memory making’ this is how you pass knowledge on through generations. Like ‘Stone Henge’ these are memory making resources. This is how information was passed on. Not written”.
While talking with Carin our conversation lead to a discussion of Australian writer, researcher and science educator, Lynne Kelly. We talked about her research and writing on ‘memory making’. Words are remembered through feelings and physical interaction, and that is what the songlines are about…
“You are anchoring information….songlines were key to the way Indigenous Australians organised this vast store of information so that it would not be forgotten”.
“Songlines are sung narratives of the landscape, singing tracks that weave across the country and enable every significant place to be known. At each location, rituals are performed that enact the knowledge associated with that specific place”.1
The engraved rocks are story boards communicating the history of Te Rae, setting up a trail, connecting the rocks and linking the stories. The heaviness of the stones anchor the narratives to the land.
“Someone said we should have a board explaining what I’ve tried to achieve here. You hope not to make it to obvious but teaching kids the history of the area and local schools would be a positive outcome. In our culture we know of the wananga. In Māori culture the ‘chair’ was a ‘stone’ used in wananga. The student that came to the wananga had to sit on the stone while the tohunga walked around talking to him imparting on him knowledge and generally there was quite a ritual around it. You had to put pebbles in your mouth and suck on the pebbles because you knew you couldn’t swallow them but they helped to keep you awake. You are sitting on this rather uncomfortable stone sucking pebbles and listening to the tohunga intoning all of this information”.
Since the redevelopment a more diverse range of people use and move through the square, the site has changed now, it is more alive, and there is more energy. The space was previously not used like this before, it was empty, cold and uninviting.
“What I’ve learned is the significance of the location and also tried to tell the stories about how pre-colonial days there was an important confidence of energies and an important energy centre. The energy of the tunnel and motorway realises itself through a whole new cycle. Generations later but the energy never abates”.
We discussed the process of working in collaboration with Council as an artist and the issues that arose throughout the project. We asked Carin to explain the interaction between the different groups that were involved in the project, the inter-relationships and how the design evolved through those relationships: ‘how much do you have to hold onto your design’?
“You have to hold onto your design and fight pretty hard to hold onto it. The learning curve was that council have responsibilities around public spaces, one of those is keeping people safe. You, as an artist have to be conscious of that, health and safety has changed so much”.
There were safety concerns with the design of the sliding bench seats. There were concerns that children could jam their feet underneath the small gap between the seats and the ground. Carin remembers the old style playgrounds he played on as a child. Steel bars, hanging from his knees, falling...the fault lay with him, the user. We discussed that, if you as council, were trying to support a creative endeavour, you really wouldn’t want to dumb down the input of the artist. They (project managers) only knew how to build spreadsheets and how to stick to a specific formula. The process becomes very clinical and is broken down into units of production and outcomes.
“The art process does not really work that way. You have the genesis of an idea, then you develop a methodology about building it, then you just embark on the process. There will be unforeseen issues, and you just solve them on the fly. The chart will say this needs to happen on this day. When through production you recognise that perhaps a couple of things could happen at the same time. They should have dedicated project managers to work with the arts team”.
At a recent hui, Carin expressed his views about the difficultieshe experienced with the project, and questioned the challenges of being recognised as someone who wants to creatively contribute to civic development.
“You believe you have something to offer and want to talk to the broad plan of what is going on in the city. The lack of knowing and understanding what the council procurement processes are, and that council go back to the same people all the time, the simplest and most uncomplicated route. So how do new artists get into the loop and get involved with new projects?”
Following the hui Carin was approached by a council staff member who informed him about a new process for artists and public projects called ‘unsolicited proposals’. The process enables artists to approach Council for consideration in a project. This then falls to people to put their hand up and say I’d like to be considered.
“It would be good to let people know that this is now available...so, hopefully it will be easier for the next person, or the next artists design”.
Endnote from Carin.
Carin would like to acknowledge Parahaki Engineering Whangarei, the steel fabricators he worked with for part of the project. The company have a small team and they mainly work with fairly generic large scale tasks. The team easily adapted to working in a smaller scale, and the innovation to produce something out of the ordinary was no issue. They set themselves to the task and learnt new things along the way. The whole team either got involved or watched intently alongside. Carin really admires them for that and he suspects he noticed there is a creative aspiration in everybody, they all harbour desire that the work opens up in areas where that creative impetus can find expression.
te pōti marae restoration project
Ngā Puhi, Ngāti Hau
Te Pōti Marae in unique insofar as it consists of an original circa 1870 earth floor wharepuni / meeting house, (the only one of its type in Aotearoa), a Pātaka - elevated store house and an original two bedroom Victorian cottage all of which were largely abandoned in the late 1930s when the river road was put through to Pipiriki on the left bank of the river. Following a visit to the marae in 2011 to film an episode of the Whare Māori Television series (http://www.maoritelevision.com/tv/shows/whare-maori) I remained in contact with descendants of the marae Don Robinson and Adrian Pucher and, together in 2014 we initiated a restoration project with the direct support of Heritage New Zealand (formerly the Historic Places Trust).
The project involves annual tranches of 2nd, 3rd and 4th year architecture students from the Unitec Department of Architecture along with Te Hononga staff (Rau Hoskins and Carin Wilson) and descendants of the marae working with Heritage NZ conservation experts to restore the wharepuni named ‘Kōhanga Rehua’, an original Pātaka along with the design and construction of a kāuta (plywood kitchen lockup), a whare manaaki (dining structure) and eco ablutions facilities. Our students commenced in semester two 2014 by researching Whanganui River Iwi histories, marae and traditional construction techniques and then spent a week in October that year on the first stage restoration work for the wharepuni. This included re-piling, installation of new bottom plates, new stud bases (to replace rotten sections) and the assembly of a new rear wall frame.
The wharepuni restoration process progressed again in semester two 2015 with new raupō insulation (sourced from a local swamp) to replace the existing, new weather-boards, a full corrugated iron re-roof, new maihi (barge boards) and amo (front wall plates) as well as the levelling and preparation of the earth ready for final shark liver oil coating. With the wharepuni restoration now being 80% complete, the focus this year has moved on to the Pātaka with students writing a conservation report and quantifying and sourcing materials ready for the first stage of work planned for October this year (2016).
Other students have been formed into teams to design, source materials, seek sponsorship and prefabricate separate water collection tower, shower and composting toilet structures. This work also involves researching and designing alternative energy, water collection and waste water systems in order to maintain fully sustainable solutions for the marae.With Heritage NZ and Unitec staff and students providing free labour, the marae whānau are primarily funding the materials and transportation (including the jet-boat trips across the river) as well as catering for up to 35 hungry students per visit. While students stay in tents and are without cell phone coverage, electricity and hot running water for a week at a time, they seem to really appreciate the experience and certainly new cohorts keep coming back for more!
manaaki whenua, manaaki tangata, haere whakamua
Senior Associate, Jasmax
Care for the Land, Care for the People, Go Forward.
Lessons from the Ōtāhuhu Station Project
Faced with a culturally significant project, how can clients, designers and mana whenua [EH1] come together to create an outcome that respects and reflects the importance of a place, whilst still achieving the functional requirements of the brief? Once you have established cultural narratives, how do you integrate kaupapa Māori and its layers of meaning, without it simply becoming a design adornment?
The design and construction industry is currently on a journey with iwi to understanding the process, benefits and manifestations of meaningful Mana Whenua engagement. Since 2013, Auckland Transport (AT) have led a programme to transform Ōtāhuhu Station into a Bus / Train Interchange (BTI); a vital new piece of public transport infrastructure for South Auckland. As the project reaches completion, the following article outlines the successes, lessons learnt and areas for improvement generated from a round table discussion between Auckland Transport’s Joshua Hyland and Simon Lough, project artist Tessa Harris (Ngai Tai ō Tāmaki) and Jasmax’s Jeff Wells (architect) and Sara Zwart (landscape architect). Further thoughts have been added by project artist Graham Tipene (Ngāti Whātua).
The Ōtāhuhu Station incorporates a significant new bus and train interchange as part of the ‘New Network’ [EH2] bus planning in Auckland. The unusual site is an industrial area away from the Ōtāhuhu Town Centre. Selected for its operational advantages, it provides a significant opportunity to improve the area and create a unique sense of place. The project includes a concourse and ticket office structure, bus stops, parking and turnaround and significant site landscaping including a public plaza, urban forest and planted wetland, and raingardens.
The following 11 iwi groups were engaged through the process of this project:
Te Ahiwaru / Makaurau
Ngāti Te Ata Waiohua
Te Akitai Waiohua
Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei
Ngāi Tai Ki Tāmaki
Ngāti Whanaunga (JH to confirm full list – one iwi missing?).
Mana whenua engagement at the outset of the project enabled clear priorities and narratives to be established. These were further refined through the use of the ‘Te Aranga Principles’ established by Auckland City Council.
‘If you’re going to have an iconic structure – in my opinion it should be about New Zealand culture… the Te Aranga Design Principles and mana whenua attitudes link back to the land and all these other rich themes’ (Joshua Hyland [JH], Auckland Transport)
Ōtāhuhu has always been a geographically and culturally significant place due to its location on the narrowest point of the Auckland isthmus. A key gateway into Auckland, this 1km strip between the Waitematā and Manukau Harbour was traditionally a significant waka portage (Te Tō Waka / Te Tāhuhutanga o te Waka Tainui). For this reason, it has always been a highly valuable and contested piece of land. Today, Ōtāhuhu remains a significant cultural and industrial suburb within the city limits of Auckland; its population growing at a rate exponential to the supercity.
Auckland Transport’s early intention and vision for this project was to create a uniquely New Zealand and iconic transport interchange that respected and reflected both a quality user experience and embedded Mana Whenua values. This focus set the scene for a three year collaboration between AT, mana whenua, the design team, and selected iwi artists.
Early in the project, particular focus was given to engagement with mana whenua to enable an intrinsic understanding of the true significance [EH3] and values related to the site for the 11 iwi[EH4] who are linked to this place. This process had two key outcomes: the desire to restore the mauri (life force) back to a highly degraded site; and the establishment of three key narratives to be incorporated into the project design: navigation, portage/waka and maunga.
‘…the richness of the stories that are available there, the themes fell out and people were very generous with their stories and how it all fitted together… there are stories wherever you go’ (Simon Lough [SL], Auckland Transport)
There was an early desire that art and Māori knowledge and narratives, should be closely integrated within the design, structure and intent of the landscape and architecture. There was also limited budget for the inclusion of art, and an integrated approach reduced the risk of ‘decorative’ elements becoming sacrificial. Key to achieving this integration was the introduction of three operational processes which significantly improved communication between all parties, facilitating a more effective design collaboration and decision-making.
‘I wanted to keep the kōrero around the table with the designers, with mana whenua, an ongoing conversation rather than something going on behind closed doors that had to be integrated later’ [JH]
These three processes were:
· Auckland Transport worked with iwi ‘facilitators’ (Tipa Compain of AT, and Rau Hoskings of DesignTRIBE) in the early stages of mana whenua engagement when understanding of tikanga (protocol) was lacking within the wider team
· The establishment of an ‘Iwi Art Sub-Committee’ allowed more frequent meetings and direct and ongoing engagement with iwi artists and mana whenua representatives in the project’s design
· A widespread commitment to report back, openly and honestly, to regular hui to inform all concerned parties of the project’s progress
“We had some hard conversations with mana whenua but it was always upfront and honest, so if we weren’t sure we said so, if we were struggling with something we said so…’ (SL)
The project team wanted Māori design influence to be more than token or ornamental in the project. Mana whenua values, reinforced by the use of the Te Aranga Design Principles, resulted in several highly sustainable design outcomes including stormwater being treated on site and discharged to the Manukau Harbour clean, via raingardens and a planted wetland. Plant selection is native and appropriate to the site and includes species identified as having significant importance to local iwi, with the intent that they can be harvested for both weaving and rongoā (medicine). And a simpler, yet still significant sign of changing values was the use of macrons within the station signage.
The three project narratives became manifest in several ways over the following months of design. An early design move was the building orientation and reference to the form and alignment of waka traveling along the portage. This is reinforced by rango[EH5] paving inlays representing the ‘skids’ for the waka.
There was several iterations of the concourse design which had to balance structural, cost and design constraints whilst still symbolically representing a waka. The question of ‘how literal is too literal’ was hotly debated at this point. Through these kōrero (discussions) with mana whenua a successful compromise was met, which resulted in the building ends being angled to better represent the waka form.
‘We were trying to bridge the gap between quite literal expectations and the realities of the structure, with a background of not enough time, not enough budget and sometimes having to go back and redesign’ (Jeff Wells, Architect, Jasmax)
Whilst the opportunities for integration of iwi art and narratives were established early – it was not until the Art Sub-Committee was formed, and artists Tessa Harris and Graham Tipene were appointed - that the many of these were formalised. Through a series of collaborative design workshops the client, iwi representatives, artists and designers met and resolved how to integrate the project themes. This process enabled the design to move quickly to meet the programme, and was aided by the richness and clarity of the early mana whenua kōrero.
‘When I got brought in everything was clear – I knew what I had to do. I enjoyed working with everyone to get their input. It was a little bit nerve wracking at the beginning… The people around the table – if they wanted to say something they would – being honest and open helps a lot and…that integrity that people know they’re going to get the straight up story’ (Tessa Harris, Artist, Ngāi Tai Ki Tāmaki)
Three key artworks were integrated within the building: Purapura whetū mahau (light feature at entry) and Aramoana (glass shading detail) by Tessa Harris, and Maunga Moana [EH6] (precast concrete façade detail) by Graham Tipene. These concepts are grounded in the layers of Ōtāhuhu’s history, and the programme and use of the building itself.
Tessa and Graham were also instrumental in the development and manifestation of other Māori concepts within the wider design; such as the rango (paving inlays) and maunga maumahara. Arrival and departure from the station navigates through a field of ‘maunga maumahara’, or memorial markers to the significant local maunga. These align with paving lines that are directional, denoting the physical location of the maunga, allowing the traveller to locate themselves in relation to the whenua, and commemorating now absent maunga. Whilst these were an early feature in the project design, the detailed design, blessing and physical construction was an ongoing collaboration with both Tessa Harris and the wider mana whenua group.
The greatest learning from this aspect of the project would be a desire to engage the artists even earlier in the process, ideally in sequence with mana whenua engagement and the establishment of the key narratives. This would allow a greater influence in the structural and programmatic design and may have assisted with some of the tensions around the ‘waka’ building form.
‘The whole process speaks to the evolution of process itself, 50 years ago there was no one sitting around talking about this… whereas now there is history being brought into play, there’s mana whenua being brought into play…The evolution of process has changed, it’s really good that this is happening. Personally for me it ticks a lot of boxes and resonates well for my personal involvement in the project’ Graham Tipene, Artist, Ngāti Whātua)
The three operational processes established a dialogue that truly works; yes, there were bumps along the way, but ultimately the kōrero rangatira (meaningful conversations) created an ingrained sense of place and belonging to this collaborative project. As a project team we see that there are aspects we could have done better[EH7] , however, for us as individual practitioners and stakeholders, this level of engagement was beyond anything we have previously experienced. Central to this was the importance of building relationships and demystifying both iwi tikanga (custom) and the design process itself. This built a level of trust amongst the team and created an environment where it was acceptable to hold your hand up and say ‘I don’t know what to do’ and ask for advice.
‘It was about respect, the Te Aranga principles and what they stand for, they’re not just about mana whenua, it’s about nurturing the land, the memory of the land, and what’s been before’ [JH]
‘It’s about utilising the system properly, the statement of intent for AT is to deliver the world’s most liveable city therefore our budgets and business cases need to include the aspirational responses not just the bare bones’ [SL]
There is a genuine desire within mana whenua groups and the design community to create a built environment enriched by the history, knowledge and tikanga of Aotearoa. We’re learning together how best to reflecting the past we come from and define the future we walk towards. The first step in this journey is an authentic desire and belief in the value of good engagement and collaboration with mana whenua. This understanding and respect goes a long way – and speaks louder than words at a hui!
Kua tawhiti kē tō haerenga mai, kia kore e haere tonu.
He tino nui rawa ōu mahi, kia kore e mahi nui tonu.
We have come too far, not to go further.
We have done too much, not to do more.
Sir James Hēnare
Walmsley Road, Ōtāhuhu
Jasmax, Matthew Glubb, Jeff Wells, Rory Kofoed
Jasmax, Mike Thomas, Sara Zwart, Nick Pearson
Cultural Design Facilitation
DesignTRIBE, Rau Hoskins (Ngāti Hau, Ngāpuhi)
Tessa Harris (Ngāi Tai Ki Tāmaki), Graham Tipene (Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei)
te auaunga awa
Tom Mansell and Rachel Griffiths
Auckland Council Healthy Waters Department
Oakley Creek daylighting and restoration project
Te Auaunga Awa – Oakley Creek is one of Auckland’s most significant and well-known urban streams, its catchment spans four local board areas, and covers a geographical area of 1220ha. The headwaters of the stream begin in Hillsborough and Mt Roskill (Puketāpapa), and flow down through the suburbs of New Windsor and Mt Albert, entering the Waitematā Harbour at Waterview.
The project area is located along 1.3 kilometres of Te Auaunga Awa, through Underwood and Walmsley Reserves in Mount Roskill, Auckland. The project begins at Sandringham Rd, and finishes downstream of Richardson Rd and has a budget of $25m.
Design and stormwater considerations
The design team, comprisingof AECOM New Zealand Limited (AECOM), Boffa Miskell Limited (BML), Auckland Council, Mana Whenua, and Local Community groups have been engaged by Auckland Council to design the restoration project and achieve multiple project outcomes, which include:
Flood mitigation via improved stream capacity
Rehabilitation of Te Auaunga Awa
Improved walking and cycling access and infrastructure within the park (a 1.5km cycle lane and walkway will add passive opportunities to connect with the awa)
Improved community amenity (through planting, provision of three new play areas, a BMX track and two new bridges will replaceroad culverts and three new pedestrian bridges)
Improved water quality (Enviropods in catch-pits and numerous treatment wetlands will also be installed to treat run-off)
Landscape-led, community empowered
Te Aranga Design Principles (derived from Te Aranga Māori Cultural Landscape Strategy 2006, www.tearanga.maori.nz), provide the mechanism with which the stream, landscape and the community are reconnected.
A co-design process
In accordance with Te Aranga Māori Design Principles, the design and consultation has been collaboratively undertaken with mana whenua – five iwi representatives were engaged and asked to consider and how their particular interests and passion could help to develop the project. The Iwi representatives were empowered to choose how they engaged with the project, resulting in a consultative methodology, which focused feedback and thinking, whilst enabling innovative design solutions. These included: Taiao - The natural environment is protected, restored, and/or enhanced, and Mauri Tu - Environmental health is protected, restored and/or enhanced. In addition, other community representatives including volunteer groups, community organisations, residents and Local Boards were also consulted and contributed to the design process.
Multiple use – multiple benefits
Land value in Auckland is such that land cannot be used for just one purpose. The project weaves together a wetland treatment device that enables stormwater treatment functionality and also develops design solutions that contribute to amenity, cultural, habitat and ecological values within the area.
Community outreach and social enterprise
Other design and community outcomes have been factored in as advised by iwi, such as the capacity for the project to provide opportunities to influence behaviour change and provide tools whereby reconnecting with the awa is achieved. These are woven into the design and implementation process – this acknowledges and honours Maori world view - manaakitanga. The tools include providing a community space (an outdoor classroom) with edible gardens, pā harakeke, and a multi-cultural fale where all communities can be welcomed and knowledge can be shared. Additionally, 9000m2 of basalt to be removed from the stream will be re-used and placed back into the stream as crushed stone, creating in-stream habitat and recreating stream morphological features (pools, riffles, runs).
The construction and maintenance of the project is expected to give back to the local community through a training and work placement scheme for local youth (‘Project Peter’, in collaboration with UNITEC), with the winning contractor to employ and continue to upskill five graduates of this programme, the remainderwill be supported into full-time employment.Auckland Council has also provided seed funding for Te Whangai Trust to develop a commercial nursery, and provide training to local youth to grow eco-sourced native plants that will then be purchased for the restoration planting.
falling in love with life
Regenerative design practice – purposefully seeing potential together to co- create solutions that can heal the world.
For all our personal and business efforts, for every hard won healthy green building, every enterprise that reduces harm or poverty, every new technology that improves communication, we still, inexorably consume our world, just as we are conditioned to do. With more people needing more stuff, we need more of our planet’s resources and life to ‘sustain’ us and continue to grow our economy. Can we only go backwards or can we go forward by regenerating our relationship with life?
Regenerative design practice addresses three challenges critical to us continuing to live on the planet now and in coming centuries.
Reawakening a celebration of ’nature’ as the whole ‘source’ of life rather than a world of extraction and technical fragments
moving from individual siloed solutions to working as ‘communities’ with the living whole and
leveraging our projects so the investments are integrated with nature and continuously add value to our ecologic, social and economic systems.
Rather than banging on about reducing negative environmental impacts – we might want to look at increasing impacts – but the positive kind! The regenerative design ‘process’ asks a project to be an ‘acupuncture’ point, to serve and heal the wider neighbourhoods and watersheds in which it sits.
How? The process allows this by engaging with and asking people ‘what they love about their place?’ and critically ‘what’s missing’, what stops it from being whole? The answers naturally unveil patterns of use and fundamental relationships. Relationships between people and people, and – between people and natural systems. Healing these relationships, with celebration and acknowledgement gives rise to the potential of ‘the’ future we are then motivated to co-create. This simple act of invitation, of talking, of identifying the health of their place, activates people and communities to want to realise that potential to heal.
People inherently recognise living wholeness, loving nature, even if we need to consciously relearn how to express and work with it professionally!
Be it a bathroom extension, a landscape park or a multi-storey office, the act of development is intrinsically an ‘activating’ force which also stimulates ‘constraining’ forces or limitations. Conventionally we are trained to seek compromise in the hasty need to deliver a on time. ‘If I give a little to you and you give me something’ we actually end up with less! The regenerative process, a co-creative opportunity is for us to reconcile these constraints into a new evolved future. This is the transformation of process and outcome is what we need in our culture. That the developer, the communities and of course nature transform to ensure we can all flourish and continue to, generation after generation because we have fallen in love with ‘our’ place.
te timatanga reflections
Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Mutunga
Craig Pauling (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Mutunga, English, Scottish, Welsh) is a founding member and former co-chair of Ngā Aho - the national network of Māori design professionals (www.ngaaho.maori.nz), and currently heads the Te Hihiri Cultural Advisory Team at New Zealand owned environmental design and planning consultancy Boffa Miskell (www.boffamiskell.co.nz). Craig has almost 20 years’ experience in the environmental management field, particularly focussed on iwi Māori issues. He has a passion for ensuring our unique natural and cultural heritage is celebrated through urban design, natural resource policy and planning, and ecological restoration.
Te Timatanga Reflections and poems are inspired by local and international speakers at the inaugural / Te Timatanga Indigenous Design Conference hosted by Nga Aho at Whakapara Marae, 26-29 Febuary 2016.
Christchurch was originally defined by the imposition of a gridded organisational system upon the sprawling plains of Canterbury. With minimal levels of topographic excitement, the plains accepted the grid without protest, with exception to the course of the Ōtākaro/Avon River; where fluvial margins meandered an insistent route across the heart of the new geometry.
Intersecting an imported logic with a local environmental system was the beginning of a specific urban character for the central city.
In the aftermath of the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010 & 2011, recovery efforts looked to the edges between city and river as locations for catalytic urbanism. In order to approach what had essentially been asphaltic streets atop the river bank, design efforts drew from diverse influences and precedents from afar.
Again imported concepts are transformed in dialogue with the Ōtākaro. Zooming in to a finer grain, part of the vocabulary in this conversation is a sequence of literary and graphic artworks, manifested at specific points within the wider riparian promenade and park.
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, whilst expressing a shared cultural history with greater dexterity than previous iterations of the city.
Defined by Ngāi Tahu principles; “Kia atawhai ki te iwi, Be kind to your people” Welcoming citizens back in to the recreated city, and; “Unu tai, which waters are you from?” the project embraces the river as a way to differentiate place and identity.
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. Upon the recently completed river terraces/bleacher at the terminus of Cashel Mall can be found the first literature piece;
BEFORE ME | A FLOTILLA OF LEAVES FLOATS DOWNSTREAM | ALONG THE INKY BLACK WATER OF THE ŌTĀKARO | HOW SERENELY THEY SAIL OUT OF THEIR PAST| AND INTO THEIR FUTURE | BEHIND ME.1
In implied answer, across the river;
KO ŌTĀKARO TE INGOA | O TE AWA NEI | NŌKU TĒNEI WHENUA.,2
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.
In alternating frequency with literature pieces, the ‘Ngā Whāriki’ are 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.
Each pattern illustrates different stories and ideals, originating with master weavers Reihana Parata and Morehu Flutey-Henare, and iteratively translated into digital drawings with graphic designer Wayne Youle.
Effectively a visual language system, the pattern can be read longitudinally as a stacking of layers which read asa sentence. Laterally, the pattern can be extended by modules described as: “hono; meaning to join, connect, splice, weave to make a longer mat”3
At five hono in size, one of the largest Whāriki can be found at the threshold of the Bridge of Remembrance. Maumahara responds to the presence of the bridge, depicting marching lines of servicemen and women with a central band of red poppies symbolising distant fields, underpinned by the pātikitiki pattern, a connection to the spiritual realm
In time, both Literature and Whāriki installations will 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. Zooming out, these features will sit within the broader Avon River Promenade, a fairly consistent urban fabric which will unfold along the course of the river. It will read simultaneously as a (potential) sequential journey, and as a series of distinct stand-alone spaces defined by moments of difference, widenings and narrowings, buildings new and old. It is within this choreography that the Arts Trail installations will play their part. They are exacerbations of spatial difference which magnify shared cultural values and aspirations for the future. The spatial configuration of instigating a new human centred walkable public realm with coffee, beer and lunch aside the river, is held up in parallel with the desire of Ngāi Tahu to set the deeds of ancestors in stone, whilst exploring the indigenous identity of the future.
The close scale of this article is intentional, if bizarre in comparison to typical landscape architectural strategies. Māori values are embedded in the rebuilding of the city at much broader scales, but it is this very fine, human scale that I believe is most relevant to the discussion of differentiation by design within the Ōtākaro Arts Trail project.
In a lineal public realm project, where the process of spatial division is primarily achieved via perturbance of the ground plane, these interventions have provided an effective means of defining a specific intensity within the typical paved surface. While it pains me to admit most paving systems will go largely unnoticed (if successful) it is undeniable that in this case, the abstraction, interpretation and translation of a traditional means of weaving mats has created a captivating feature worthy of contemplation (and surely a foot-selfie?).
On the face of the river terraces, stories of the river from different cultural perspectives have become detailed objects, a layer of craftsmanship which dips into the river and enhances the rhythm between installations along its course.
In the context of this project, the integration of indigenous values has led to a form of public art which is embedded in the fabric of the built landscape, as opposed to objects placed atop. This in turn, has generated new design concepts, which read both as a cohesive, big picture story sequence, and as a fine grain differential material at a human scale.
1. Apirana Taylor, Te Whanau-a-Apanui, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Ruanui, Te Ati Awa, Pākeha.
Thoughts on the Avon from te ata kura: the red tipped dawn, 2004
2. Wiremu Te Uku, Ngai Tahu.
3. Reihana Parata, Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Māmoe, Waitaha. Morehu Flutey-Henare, Ngāi Tahu, Rangitāne, Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Ruanui, Ngāpuhi Nui Tonu, Tainui, Ngāti Porou. Ngā Whāriki Manaaki – Woven Mats of Welcome, 2016.
Andrew Priestley, Alex Smith, Hanna O’Donoghue, Yoko Tanaka, Ian Boothroyd, Eynon Delamere and Mark Lewis
Māori as a people are very inclusive, generally making decisions in a collective way. Do you need consensus to make decisions, and how are decisions formed with iwi groups and community groups in general?
It is important to involve iwi and community groups as early as possible in projects so they are aware of the project parameters and scope. As designers, we want to engage with these groups and consult in a way in which their ideas are considered. For the consultation process to be effective, the early stages should be focused on setting objectives and first principles, but also as much about forming relationships and trust. Following any consultation work, initial and ongoing feedback is a very good idea to keep stakeholders and partners informed and build long-term relationships.
Recently, we were involved in a project where we were appointed to lead the design process with Mana Whenua on the signage and wayfinding. To achieve the project deliverables within the required time frames, we programmed regular meetings (monthly) and presented the design progress to ensure there were opportunities to engage and sustain the design dialogue. This informed engagement resulted in outcomes that everyone contributed to, and created a strong ongoing partnership.
At Boffa Miskell we have Te Hihiri, a team of passionate specialists that lead the integration of Te Ao Maori in environmental management, planning and design. This is premised on strong relationships with Iwi, Hapu and Maori across Aotearoa. In Tāmaki we have Te Aranga design principles, but only Iwi can breathe life into these principles and make a good project great. At the forefront of our practice, is a desire to working alongside iwi to come up with solutions that will celebrate our city’s cultural landscape as a unique place in the world.
Do you think exploring concepts of indigeneity are current and relevant?
Yes, it’s part of how we approach all our project work at Boffa Miskell. This aligns with the key values of the Auckland Design Manual which sets out the requirement for practising the Te Aranga Māori Design Principles; setting out how we can positively engage with Mana Whenua and shape our built environment to acknowledge our position as a city in the South Pacific. The biggest constraint we face when incorporating cultural narratives into projects is a lack of awareness from other professional disciplines, and the reduced time and budget ascribed to these processes. Thankfully there are many public projects and larger-scale private clients that do engage with Mana Whenua and community early and often, both to meet RMA requirements, as well as to recognise the value of long-term partnerships with community and Iwi.
Sometimes a Project Landscape Architect may be given a brief that has already been informed by consultation with community and local iwi. The challenge becomes respecting the aspirations of these groups, and balancing this with the client’s specific objectives. It is preferable to be around the table early with stakeholders and project partners to set first principles, and understand project constraints, as a collective. Currently we are working on a wide range of public and private projects where Mana Whenua are partners, including regional shared path networks, streetscape projects, stream restoration, and stormwater wetland projects. In the early stages of these projects, it is helpful to explore Te Aranga Design principles, and to understand these in a spatial sense through a ‘cultural framework’. A framework can highlight areas of cultural significance and is an effective tool for socialising potential project outcomes with Iwi representatives and identifying opportunities for specific interventions. Importantly, these frameworks also introduce cultural values and narratives to the project team and the client, so they can take a lead in informed discussions with Iwi and community groups.
Another way indigeneity plays-out in our project work, is through a deliberate native planting scheme. New Zealand native plants have a unique indigenous context and role within our diverse ecologies. This extends to community uses for these plants as cultural harvest, including edible landscapes, aro takaro, rongoa Māori, and pa harakeke.
1 Kelly, lynne, The Memory Code: The Traditional Aboriginal Memory Technique That Unlocks the Secrets of Stonehenge, Easter Island and Ancient Monuments the World Over (2016) Allen & Unwin ISBN 9781760291327 for Australia and New Zealand in July 2016, and February 2017 by Atlantic Books in the UK and Pegasus Books in the USA.