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Source: New Zealand Transport Agency

The Christchurch Northern Corridor (CNC) Alliance and Te Ngāi Tūāhuriri Rūnanga have completed work on a project which will see 11 storyboards which depict the history of the area and the importance of the environment along the new Christchurch Northern Corridor.

The steel interpretation panels have been installed along the new shared path at key culturally significant sites: Waimakariri River, Ōtukaikino Reserve, the Railway Line, Kā Putahi Creek Bridge, Belfast Road, Kā Putahi Creek diversion, Styx River, Prestons Road, Owen Mitchell Park, Cranford Basin and Cranford Street. 

The project took several months to develop. Landscape architect Kim Goodfellow came up with the storyboard concept. To bring to life the rich history of this ancient trail, the CNC Alliance worked with Lyttelton-based writer Liz Grant and Ngāi Tahu Whakapapa Unit Manager Arapata Reuben (Ngāi Tūāhuriri – Ngāi Tahu. Arapata also chairs the Christchurch-West Melton Zone Committee responsible for freshwater management outcomes along the Ōpāwaho, Ōtākaro and Pūharakekenui Rivers).

Artist Morgan Mathews-Hale, Kaitiaki Studios, designed the steel artworks and information panels. “The design reflects the Taurapa (canoe stern post) of a great waka (canoe) and traditionally represent elaborate narratives such as that of Tāwhaki and his ascent to the heavens. For us it tells the stories and whakapapa of the motorway and also, indicates a journey, travel and direction of our ancestors and future generations. Corten Steel was chosen because of its likeness to the red ochre colour of our traditional carved waka.”

“This ara (old trail) was a primary route for our Ngāi Tūāhuriri whānau travelling from Kaiapoi Pā to their seasonal mahinga kai (food gathering) and Kāinga nohoanga (places of permanent residence) in and around what is now Christchurch,” says Arapata Reuben. “The land south of the Waimakariri River was an important area for food gathering and preparation. Many sites along the new shared path hold great significance for ngā uri of Kati Urihia, a sub-hapū of Ngāi Tūāhuriri.”

Cyclists and pedestrians are invited to stop at each of the 11 sites and take time to learn about each place’s significance. The narratives don’t all look back: some of the signs tell of our current times and look into the future. The environment plays a big part in all the panels – a call to protect and clean up our rivers and to learn to live off the land while safeguarding it for future generations.

Rather than a straight ribbon of asphalt parallel to the new motorway, the new off-road path meanders through the natural landscape currently being established alongside the motorway. Many native trees and plants have already been put into the ground over the past three years, softening the motorway edges. The new planting will be an important food source for the return of native birds into the city’s fringes.

“We are very pleased with this safe, off-road pathway linking to existing and new cycle facilities,” says Richard Osborne Christchurch City Council Head of Transport. “This new cycling path has already inspired many people to take up biking, e-biking and an active commute to work. From day one we have seen an average of 350 cyclists a day using this shared path and the numbers are growing rapidly.”

“It is gratifying to acknowledge the historical significance of the route for mana whenua alongside its environmental importance and to share that with the wider community,” says Jim Harland, Director Regional Relationships Waka Kotahi.

Media invitation Thursday morning, 18 February

Media is invited on Thursday 18 February for a karakia to bless the storyboards and reveal the artwork.

Where: On the CNC shared path, south side of the Waimakariri River, ie south of the bridge (where you come off the new clip-on cycleway). You can reach this location by car via Kainga Road (Mikoikoi Drive), drive under the old Main North Road Bridge toward the Waimakariri River Bridge on the ECan river park, you can park your car there and walk or cycle up the path.

When: Thursday, 9 am, 18 February – media please be there by 8.50 am.

Contact: Norma Kloostermann, CNC Alliance Communications Manager, 027 507 1568, who can share photos and video to media also after Thursday’s blessing.

The CNC Alliance consists of Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, Christchurch City Council, Fulton Hogan, Aurecon and Jacobs. The path’s artful signs are part of the Christchurch Northern Corridor project, a four-year project that saw the new motorway and shared path open for traffic on 17 December, 2020.

The Christchurch City Council will own and maintain the shared path along the corridor from Cranford Street up to the Waimakariri River. Once over the clip-on, bridge cycleway, the path into Kaiapoi and beyond is owned by the Waimakariri District Council.

MIL OSI