The Totem Pole

The Indian Totem Pole of friendship which stood in Little Hagley Park alongside Harper Avenue until 1980, is now at Christchurch International Airport.

This pole was a gift from the Oregon Centennial Commission and the Portland Zoological Society in appreciation of hospitality given to personnel of Operation Deep Freeze.

It is an authentic work of primitive art 9m in height and 0.7m in diameter at the base, weighing 545 kg. The pole was carved by Indian Chief Lelooska during Oregon's Centennial Exposition in 1959 and is a smaller replica of one in the zoological gardens at Portland, Oregon.

Each of the figures on the pole is symbolic; at the top is the Thunderbird, traditional god of storm, honouring airmen who made the first supply drop at the South Pole in October 1956. Another figure is the killer whale, honouring the sailors who opened sea lanes to the Antarctic. The eagle is the official symbol of the United States and the grizzly bear and beaver are also included.


This was originally derived from the Christchurch City Council handbook of 1998.

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