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Christchurch's Pita Te Hori Centre Officially Opened

Pita Te Hori Centre officially opened

Mayor of Christchurch Lianne Dalziel has officially opened the Pita Te Hori Centre in central Christchurch this morning, on behalf of the Hon Nicky Wagner, Minister for Greater Christchurch Regeneration. Due to heavy fog blanketing the city, Minister Wagner’s flight returned to Wellington this morning and she was unfortunately unable to be here in person.

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 state-of-the-art 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.

Craig says that the central city precinct-style development sits within the recently reborn West End suburb and complements the extensive residential section developments at Wigram Skies, Prestons and Te Whāriki in Lincoln that Ngāi Tahu Property has developed to assist in the Christchurch rebuild.



Office buildings and Ngā Māra a Te Wera

• Designed by Warren and Mahoney and constructed by Hawkins Construction

• The buildings adopt the latest earthquake technology and quality design:

o One building uses triple pendulum base isolation, including 21 bearings on the tops of 21 columns isolating the building from movement between the ground and first floor.
o The other building has Buckle Restrained Bracing.
o Both buildings are equipped with seismic monitoring equipment to immediately identify the impact on the buildings of any future earthquakes.

• Native and exotic plantings include kōuka (cabbage trees), kōwhai, tōtara, and cherry trees, reflecting the site’s rich history.

Pupu Harakeke, a work by Auckland sculptor Virginia King, commemorates EY staff member Lisa Willems who tragically died in the 2011 earthquake.

• A work by Ngāi Tahu sculptor Priscilla Cowie, named Kirihao – Resilience – a turn of phrase used to indicate someone who is thick-skinned or tenacious like the tuna (longfin eel) – celebrates the importance of tuna and the natural ecology of the Ōtākaro (Avon) River to the Kaiapoi Ngāi Tahu, Ngāi Tahu whānui historically and in the future. Ōtākaro was an important mahinga kai site to the Kaiapoi Ngāi Tahu.

• A pounamu touchstone has been installed on the site, gifted by Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Waewae. The pounamu stone has been named Kaikanui, after the name of the kāinga (settlement) set up by Ngāti Waewae as an outpost to Kaiapoi Pā, on the north side of the Waimakariri River near the Kaikanui River.

• Native bird and plant motifs and a rain garden further enhance the site’s aesthetic appeal.

West End car park

• Designed by Warren & Mahoney and constructed by Southbase Construction

• Managed by Wilson Parking

• Over 20,000m² and provides 680 car parking spaces (415 lease, 265 public) and 198 secure bike parks.

• Utilises the latest licence plate recognition technology and a robust security system with monitored CCTV cameras througTJehout the car park and entry points.

• Includes the provision of electric vehicle charging, in support of the Christchurch City Council’s initiative to introduce a shared electric vehicle fleet for central city businesses.

• The north façade houses the equipment for the first Christchurch District Energy Scheme plant room which uses aquifer water to heat and cool the office buildings before reinjection of the water back into the aquifer. This form of heating and cooling is very energy efficient and the intention is to link this development with others so that more local businesses can benefit from a lower cost renewable energy source.

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