Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
Work smarter with a Pro licence Learn More

Art & Entertainment | Book Reviews | Education | Entertainment Video | Health | Lifestyle | Sport | Sport Video | Search


Araiteuru, The Epic Museum Redevelopment Journey Ramps Up

Canterbury Museum’s epic redevelopment journey is ticking off the milestones with more big strides ahead in the next couple of months.

Canterbury Museum Trust Board Chair David Ayers says the $205 million redevelopment of the Rolleston Avenue buildings will deliver a world-class twenty-first century Museum that celebrates people and place.

“The redevelopment has given us the opportunity to reimagine and redevelop not just the buildings, but the institution itself,” he says.

“Alongside the physical redevelopment, we’ve embarked on a cultural development journey aimed at developing stronger and deeper relationships with mana whenua and the wider communities we serve.”

The Museum has chosen a name for the redevelopment journey with the blessing of its Ōhākī o Ngā Tīpuna (iwi advisory group), Araiteuru – Ara roa. Ara nui. Ara ake rā – A great journey. An extended journey. A revealing journey. This draws on the migration traditions of the first Pacific explorers who sailed to Aotearoa in double-hulled waka – waka hourua. Araiteuru will also be the name of the new full-height Māori gallery at the heart of the redeveloped Museum.

Puamiria Parata-Goodall, Kaiurungi, Ōhākī o Ngā Tīpuna says the Museum’s relationship with mana whenua and tangata whenua have been consistent threads in the Museum’s journey. Part of this journey we are on now is the Museum accepting and owning that at times the relationship was out of balance and under-valued.

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

“The new Museum gives mana whenua the chance to regain control of our cultural narrative, paving the way to integrate cultural knowledge, tikanga and visual storytelling into the new Museum. For too long others have been interpreting and telling our stories.”

Read more about the Museum journey at www.canterburymuseum\redevelopment

Construction Progress

Contractors Ceres started work on the site in May 2023 – moving in as Museum staff moved out – initially stripping out the building interiors. Demolition of the twentieth century buildings started in November 2023. The heritage buildings will be protected throughout while the site is being redeveloped.

The 1950s Centennial Wing, which housed the Special Exhibitions Hall, and the Garden Court building – home to the blue whale over recent years – are both gone and the 1970s Duff Wing which fronts the Christchurch Botanic Gardens has been demolished in the last week. All of these "middle-aged" buildings were impaired by the 2010–2011 earthquakes.

Museum Tumuaki Director Anthony Wright says the Museum had originally planned to salvage and reuse the distinct exterior panels on the Duff Wing.

“Unfortunately, when the project team and engineers were able to look at them more closely on site, they found they weren’t actually panels, but were instead part of the structure-supporting shear wall. This meant they couldn’t be reused.” he says.

“After a detailed review process with Christchurch City Council’s Resource Consent and Heritage teams, we’ve agreed a replacement finish which will be in keeping with the original facade.”

Over the last 15 months, contractors Cook Brothers have strengthened the Robert McDougall Gallery above the ground. They have reinforced the structure with steel frames and tied together sections of unreinforced masonry throughout the building.

A temporary roof is protecting the Gallery during the works. The entire roof will eventually be replaced towards the end of the project. While the building is still not up to the building code requirements for public use, it is ready for the next round of strengthening works.

A joint venture of Leighs Construction and March Construction is about to start working on two key aspects of the build. The ground floor of the Robert McDougall Gallery will be strengthened with a temporary support structure and piles so that the building can be separated from its existing basement. The compromised old basement will be demolished and excavated out to make way for the much larger new base-isolated basement which will house art-related collection storerooms. This work is being funded by the building owners, Christchurch City Council.

At the same time, the Joint Venture will be installing the new basement diaphragm wall around the perimeter of the Robert McDougall Gallery and the larger area where the twentieth century Museum buildings have been demolished. This uses a highly specialised technique which involves excavating a narrow trench that is filled with a bentonite slurry, temporarily supporting the soil and stopping water getting in. The trench is then filled with a reinforced concrete barricade creating an outside wall around what will become the base-isolated Museum collection storage basement within.

This work on the underground level of the new Museum is expected to take until mid-2025. It is being funded by the Museum’s local authority funders Christchurch City and Hurunui, Selwyn and Waimakariri District Councils – together with government contributions from the Greater Christchurch Regeneration continency funding and the Regional Culture and Heritage Fund, and a grant from the Lottery Grants Board.

The Museum has secured more than $160 million of the $175 million needed for the construction phase of the redevelopment. This means that the Museum can finance construction through to 2026, giving time to raise the almost $15 million needed to complete the building construction phase and the further $28 to $30 million needed for the new exhibitions and displays. Further funding will be sourced through grants, philanthropic giving and community fundraising.

You can check progress on site by viewing the livestream camera on the Museum website which updates every 15 minutes.

Watch a fly through of the new Museum here

Click here to access a dropbox of recent images of the twentieth century Museum buildings and the fly through video of the new Museum.

© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines



  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland

Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.