The Inception of the Project

A notice in the January 2001 Ngā Puna Waihanga Waitaha Tai Poutini newsletter called members to a hui to plan the programme for the year. Unbeknown to the members who attended, this first hui of the year was to be the catalyst for the tukutuku project. Among those members present were Simon Rutherford, Helen Tabak, Mae Taurua and Patricia Wallace.

Simon talked about the resources of the Janet Stewart Reserve and how well the harakeke and toetoe had grown. Hearing of the toetoe prompted Helen to express her keen interest to learn how to weave tukutuku panels. Mae took up the wero and said that she could teach us the process. Patricia reminded members that the group had undertaken a variety of community projects in the past (namely, a multimedia mural for the Whare Haupiri at Burnham School, a second work entitled Te Tiwhana a Kahukura for Hagley Community College in 1995, and whariki panels for Te Mairoa in the Maori Department at the University of Canterbury in 1998). It was generally agreed that the creation of a tukutuku panel might make another suitable community project that could be given to the city of Christchurch.

Almost within days, the group learned through Community Arts Co-ordinator Rhonda Thomson that Haneta Pierce, Māori Library Services Co-ordinator at Christchurch City Libraries, was hoping to incorporate some tukutuku work in the proposed new Māori space currently in plan there.

A mini kōmiti consisting of the technical advisor Mae, Helen, Tania Nutira and Patricia met on site with Rhonda, Haneta and Caroline Syddall to look at various options. They were enthusiastic about the possibilities. As soon as they saw the proposed space with its rectangular concrete pillars, they knew that one tukutuku panel was not going to be appropriate. They immediately agreed that the space should have panels around the tops of each of the pillars. They could also see the potential for this to develop into a much wider community project, putting a strong mark of Māori ownership on the area. The group embarked on feasibility studies, quantity surveying, cost assessment and availability of resources while also attempting to gauge the likely level of community interest.

This page reproduces information from page 8 of the booklet Pūawaitanga o te Ringa - Fruits of our busy hands

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