One of the most important ways we have chosen to not only tell our stories, but also contribute to the unique experience and cultural engagement of every visitor, is through the building’s art. 

Te Aika is the name of the te ngutu, the entranceway that marks the spiritual boundary for visitors to the Centre during formal cultural ceremonies.

It expresses the mana (respect), whakapapa (genealogy), manaakitanga (hospitality) and ture wairua (spiritual mission) of Ngāi Tūāhuriri and Ngāi Tahu.

Designed by two South Island artists Rachael Rakena and Simon Kaan, Te Aika is a Ngāi Tahu version of te ahi ka, meaning ‘the home people – keep the home fires burning’.  The white exterior and edges resemble the kōtuku (the white heron), a bird of good omen as well as Te Ao Mārama (a Māori concept relating to wisdom and understanding, and the natural world of life and light). The weaving pattern is a tribute to Ngāi Tūāhuriri wahine (women) and reflects a feather cloak, a symbol of welcome, warmth, mana (respect) and protection.

Ngā Whāriki (mat of welcome) is patterned paving that can be found outside the main entrance, reflecting the strands of whakapapa and mahinga kai. 

This artwork is a collaboration between landscape designers and Ngāi Tahu artist Fayne Robinson.  The design represents the six local papatipu rūnanga (hapū/sub-tribe that come together as an iwi/tribe), and etched kōwhaiwhai patterns in the paving stone.

The pepeha, or introduction, inscribed at the entrance to Te Pae Christchurch was gifted by Ngāi Tahu.

  Told by Kaiapoi elder, Natanahira Waruwarutu before his death in 1895, the pepeha is a message to his descendants that “the measure of ‘rangatira’ is their capacity to show kindness and charity to one another”.

The kōwhaiwhai (patterns in Māori art) patterning of the glass façade celebrates Aoraki, the eldest son of the sky father Raki, who according to the Ngāi Tahu creation story formed the South Island’s highest peak, when his waka (canoe) capsized. 

Moment of Movement is a stunning sculptural façade that transitions between the public space surrounding the building and the gathering spaces within. The work is designed by New Zealand Korean multi-media artist Seung Yui Oh in association with John Troy O’Sullivan.  The artwork incorporates the soft structures of sound patterns and the rhythmic movement of light to reflect the transitory sensations that inform our sense of place.

Constellation Walk – An arrangement of lights set into the paving – known as a ‘constellation walk’ – reflect the star cluster Matariki (also known as the Pleiades star cluster), on the Cathedral Square side of the building.

Hana is Te Pae Christchurch’s signature art piece.  Created by Ngāi Tahu artist Lonnie Hutchinson this piece features three koru-shaped, chandelier-like installations made up of 11,000 glass and acrylic beads.  Each koru includes 109 individual strands, some up to four metres in length, and each strand is finished with an individual piece of ponamu.  This artwork was inspired by the Ngāi Tahu creation story and the concept of Ahikā, or keeping the home fires burning.  The red stars on the artwork represent the Matariki star cluster. Hana, which means to illuminate or brighten, is designed to draw people into the Centre and make them feel welcome.

Designed by David Trubridge, Feature Seating in the main foyers is influenced by the mounds of tussock grasses that exist in the wetlands around Ōtautahi Christchurch.  The wetlands were an important source of food and fibre for Māori, and the wooden tops of the seats mirror the rich colours of the tussocks, while the incised surface patterns denote the grass stems.