Mayor of Christchurch Lianne Dalziel has officially opened the Pita Te Hori Centre in central Christchurch this morning.
Stage one of the $85 million Ngāi Tahu Property development built on the former King Edward Barracks site includes two sustainably designed five level office buildings, a car park, and a central landscaped courtyard and gardens. The site is one of the most exciting post-earthquake commercial developments in Ōtautahi/Christchurch, and is the jewel in the crown for Ngāi Tahu and Ngāi Tūāhuriri as the iwi re-establishes its tribal influence and mana on the city.
“This site has a rich spiritual, historical and cultural significance to Ngāi Tahu,” says Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Kaiwhakahaere Lisa Tumahai. “The King Edward Barracks played a key role in our European history, but even earlier it sat on the edge of the Puari Pā, an important mahinga kai and kāinga nohoanga on the banks of the Ōtākaro (Avon) River.”
Puari Pā was first established by the Waitaha people over 700 years ago on a large island-like area between what is now Carlton Mill corner and a loop in the Ōtākaro (Avon) River near the old King Edward Barracks. Successive waves of Ngāti Māmoe and Ngāi Tahu occupied and utilised the area up to the time of the Canterbury Land Purchase in 1848. Such was its significance that the Ngāi Tūāhuriri leader Pita Te Hori claimed it in the Native Land Court in 1868, albeit unsuccessfully, as the Crown had already sold the land.
The entire development pays homage to the site’s deep Māori, European, military and police history.
Ngāi Tahu Property Project Director Gordon Craig says the Pita Te Hori Centre will be a place for the people of Christchurch, and storyboards placed throughout the new landscaped gardens reflect the historic and cultural significance of the site. “A foundation stone retrieved from King Edward Barracks will celebrate the military history of the site, and native plantings and traditional designs set into paving will reference Ngāi Tahu history,” says Craig.
The 1600m2 landscaped space between the buildings, Ngā Māra a Te Wera (The Gardens of Te Wera) is designed to be a shared space for informal gatherings, accessible from all the surrounding streets. It commemorates Te Wera, a Ngāi Tahu warrior chief.
Tenants of the first two office buildings include the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education, as part of the Christchurch Integrated Government Accommodation (CIGA) programme to reinvigorate the Christchurch CBD; EY (formerly Ernst and Young), Aurecon, Vero, Inati restaurant, West End Stories café & restaurant, a convenience store and the West End Pharmacy.
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