“Something special” – cultural artworks line SH1 through Kaikōura


The completion of Kaikōura coastline’s cultural artworks along SH1 and the railway line was officially marked last weekend.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, KiwiRail, Te Rūnanga o Kaikōura and the North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery (NCTIR) Alliance hosted a public event on the Kaikōura Peninsula to officially open and bless the artworks that feature along the coast between Ōkiwi Bay and Oaro.

These include vapour-blasted murals on the tunnels, retaining walls and the bridge in Kaikōura town, as well as pouwhenua and tekoteko (carved pillars), laser-cut corten steel and information/ story panels at seven new formal safe stopping areas along SH1.

At dawn on Saturday, sites both south and north of Kaikōura were blessed by a small group of the karakia team, followed by a ceremony at Ngā Niho Pā on the Peninsula with a final karakia to collectively bless the sites north and south.

Waka Kotahi Regional Relationships Director Jim Harland says the artwork package emerged from the relationships formed during the road and rail rebuild to tell the story of manawhenua and to leave a legacy beyond a safe and resilient road and rail connection.

“It gives a reason for people to stop and enjoy and understand Kaikōura and its manawhenua. The story is now available for everyone.”

Former long-serving Chairman of the Ngāi Tahu Māori Trust Board, Sir Tipene O’Regan spoke to the guests and community about this “splendid endeavour.”

“I would like to join in the general chorus of praise for the collective forces that have assembled this package of memories along our coast. The coast is now much more widely adorned with its memories and its story than it was before, and that says something about what we are beginning as a people to become.”

The Cultural Artwork Package has been a partnership between Waka Kotahi, KiwiRail, Te Rūnanga o Kaikōura and NCTIR which involved a team of artists, designers and others producing an extensive range of artwork along the coastline. They tell amazing stories of whakapapa and connection to this environment, for the past and for the future, says Mr Harland.

Maurice Manawatu, of Te Rūnanga o Kaikōura, led this kaupapa and hopes the artwork will inspire curiosity and encourage more people to investigate the history and culture of Kaikōura.

“To have our stories laid over our environment and to share them with all people has been something special.”

Find out more about the cultural artwork package [PDF, 17 MB]


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