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Image: Finishing Touches For Christchurch Totem

Friday 16 April 2004

Seattle carver puts finishing touches to Christchurch totem

A totem pole gifted to Christchurch by its sister city Seattle is being carved in the South Quad of the Arts Centre until early next week.

Mayor Garry Moore will officially unveil the totem on the site at 3pm next Friday 23 April.

Seattle carver,Jay Haavik, who has come to Christchurch, carved most of the totem in Seattle. The semi-completed work was then air freighted to Christchurch free-of-charge by Air New Zealand.

Mr Haavik says the totem has been designed as a welcome pole to the city of Christchurch and is being carved in the Haida style of the native peoples of Queen Charlotte Islands, off the coast of British Columbia, Canada. The wood used is Western Red Cedar from the Seattle area of the Pacific Northwest Coast.

Mr Haavik has been a professional carver for more than 30 years and specialises in styles from North West Native American art and Viking art. He says, “totem poles are without a doubt the most visible and striking symbol of the native peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America. They often tell family stories, remember a dead elder, or welcome guests. Totem poles have amazed visitors to the northwest coast for generations.”

On top of the pole that has been gifted to Christchurch is a human face with its hands in a welcome gesture between the ears of the next figure, an eagle. The eagle is a symbol of greeting and hospitality.

The eagle's claws are clutching the head of a bear, which has its tongue outstretched. In the claws of the bear is a salmon, a symbol of the marine and fishing connections between Christchurch and Seattle.

Christchurch City Council international relations co-ordinator, Dave Adamson says, “the Christchurch-Seattle sister city relationship has grown stronger every year since its formalisation in 1982. This wonderful piece of North West Native American art is just the latest example of this ”.


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