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Eel Trap transforms Christchurch landscape

Eel Trap transforms Christchurch landscape

Artist Lonnie Hutchinson (Māori - Ngāi Tahu/Samoan) has transformed Christchurch’s changing landscape with a spectacular 50-metre-long eel trap, or hinaki, suspended between Victoria Street’s Arcades Project.

The six-metre-high Arcades have already become a transitional landmark in a key area of Christchurch’s regeneration and the artwork, entitled “I Like Your Form”, adds another layer of meaning on a grand scale.

The giant hinaki, in close proximity to the Ōtākaro/Avon River, is a reminder of traditions that might not be immediately apparent in the midst of Christchurch’s hectic rebuild. Hutchinson says the Ōtākaro/Avon plays a unique role in the traditional economy and culture of local Māori. “The intervention of the kupenga/net tensioned between the two sets of arcades is a reclaiming of ‘site’ that is of significance to Ngāi Tahu.”

The artwork is Hutchinson’s response to an invitation from FESTA (Festival of Transitional Architecture) to intervene in the Arcades. FESTA director Jessica Halliday says she is thrilled that The Arcades Project has allowed the realisation of such a significant sculptural work. “The Arcades Project was intended to provide a striking framework for temporary activity and it’s wonderful to see how ‘I Like Your Form’ has contributed additional rich layers of meaning in one beautiful gesture. We encourage more people to venture into the city in the closing weeks of winter to see this remarkable giant yellow hinaki.”

The artist and a team of volunteers and sponsoring construction partners installed “I Like Your Form” over the weekend of Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 July and have put the final touches to it today. The monumental transitional work is proudly supported by Christchurch City Council’s Transitional City Projects Fund, Creative New Zealand, Cymon Allfrey Architects, Lewis Bradford engineers and Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu. It will be on display until September 14.

FESTA 2014 takes place over Labour Weekend from October 24 – 27.

To arrange an interview please contact FESTA director Jess Halliday phone: 0211104835.

Lonnie Hutchinson – I Like Your Form

Informed by the cultural riches of her Polynesian heritage (Māori -Ngāi Tahu, Samoan), Lonnie Hutchinson is a multi media and installation artist who exhibits in New Zealand. Drawing lies at the base of Hutchinson’s practice, which is influenced by contemporary culture and Polynesian aesthetics and art forms. Recent public commissions include All that you breathe (Victoria University), Te Waharoa ki te ao Mārama (Hamilton Lake) and Honoa ki te hono Tawhiti (Auckland Art Gallery). Hutchinson’s work can be found in The Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, The Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna O Waiwhetu, the Hocken Library Dunedin, the Queensland Art Gallery, the National Gallery of Australia, The Chartwell Collection and in private collections throughout New Zealand and abroad.

Artist’s Statement
Kā Pakihi Whakatekateka o Waitaha
The plains where the Waitaha strutted proudly
- Rākaihautū and Rakihouia, Waitaha

This Ngāi Tahu pepeha can be seen as something of a tribal boast as it reflects Waitaha’s original delight in deciding on their first South Island home. Today it is used to link Canterbury Ngāi Tahu with their earlier Waitaha ancestors. The pepeha is attributed to founding Waitaha tūpuna Rākaihautū and Rakihouia.

Pepeha are customary forms of spoken expression. They often embody tribal histories of settlement, tribal migrations, whakapapa/genealogy or allude to the deeds of ancestors. They can be cited as codes for living, as insight into Ngāi Tahu perspectives of the world or as landmarks that anchor the past and reach to the future.

I have used the 'landmark' the Kā Pakihi Whakatekateka o Waitaha pepeha for this project, distilling the pepeha's essential meaning and reimagining it in a visual form.

The intervention of kupenga/net artwork I Like Your Form in the Arcades draws from the form of traditional Māori fishing kupenga/nets and hinaki/eel traps that were used to catch inaka/white bait and tuna/eels in the Ōtākaro/Avon River.
The Ōtākaro/Avon River plays a unique role in the traditional economy and culture of Ngāi Tahu. The most direct physical relationship that Ngāi Tahu have with water involves the protection, harvesting, and management of mahinga kai. The term “mahinga kai” refers to natural resources and the area in which they are found. It includes the way resources are gathered, the places they are gathered from, and the resources themselves, for example, fish such as tuna/eel and inaka/whitebait, and materials such as harakeke. The Ōtākaro/Avon River was highly regarded as mahinga kai by Māori living around or near what is now the Christchurch area. The intervention of the kupenga/net tensioned between the two sets of arcades is a reclaiming of ‘site’ that is of significance to Ngāi Tahu. I Like Your Form acknowledges and celebrates the Ngāi Tahu Claims Settlement Act 1998 and in particular customary fishing and management rights.
I named this artwork I Like Your Form because of its dual meaning to me. I am very fond of traditional hinaki forms and I like the complimentary nature of this phrase.


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