After a big night on Friday, WORD Christchurch Spring Festival goers woke up to a beautiful Saturday morning in Ōtautahi | Christchurch. Perfect for a walk along the Ōtakāro | Avon River.
A sizeable group (and a poodle) set a good pace along the river while listening to listen to Joseph Hullen (Ngāti Tūāhuriri) relate the Māori history of the area, and to hear writers Frankie McMillan, Bernadette Hall, Fiona Farrell and New Zealand's Poet Laureate, David Eggleton.
A pivotal message from this project, reflected both in Te Reo and in the lines gifted to the city by the poets, was of protecting the land and mauri of native creatures, for future generations.
It's well worth taking the walk, which runs from Riverside Markets, (where there is a graded proverb etched into the river bank, reflected in Te Reo on the other side), to Margaret Mahy Playground, where there is a whāriki panel in the pavement. There are fourteen 'woven mats of welcome' in all.
The whāriki represent Māori life along the river before Pākehā built their hippodamic (fortress-like) city, confronting Māori with differing concepts of land, ownership and food sources.
Pākehā regarded these taonga in terms of money, while Māori considered their role as one of kaitiakitanga, or guardianship, for future generations. This hope is written on the pavement on the corner of Victoria Square, and expressed in Fiona Farrell's verse beyond the two pou, that, it is hoped, her Majesty may one day be turned to face as equals.
The Matapopore Trust would like to see the wharikī, whakataukī and poems made available online.
- WORD Christchurch website (for the full programme and info about authors)
- Follow WORD Christchurch on Twitter and Facebook
- Read our WORD Christchurch Spring Festival 2020 coverage