Kaikoura. April 2009. Ajr
On a site that has been occupied by Maori for over 800 years, it’s an unexpected break from tradition. That says Cliff Whiting, was always the intention.
“Back in the 1970s Ngai Tahu recognised that no new marae had been built for a long time and they saw the need to develop their cultural identity. Once the site had been agreed upon with the NZ Historic Places Trust, an archaeological dig was carried out, confirming that the original site was very close to the new plans in development. When it came to developing the garden, the local Ngati Kuri people were very much guided by the presence and preservation of original pallisade mounds,” he says.
In a unique departure from tradition, Ngati Kuri, under the guidance of the late Bill Solomon, recognised their shared histories and the fact that since the early 1880s, many of their people had inter-married with Europeans. “Bill got the idea of involving pakeha artists in the development of outside areas and everyone worked together in a very deliberate way to integrate that inclusiveness into the whole marae statement. It was the first marae to do that and while some of the ideas have since been incorporated into Awarua at Invercargill, it remains the quite unique,” says Whiting. (This is an extract from a feature I originally wrote in 2005, published in Urbis Landscapes).