“Ōtautahi: An Origin Story”? The title might seem a little bold (pun intended?) but is a reference to a common convention used in graphic novels. Most superheroes have an “origin story” – a back story that reveals how they became a hero or gained their powers. With “Ōtautahi: An Origin Story”, I wanted to tell just one thread of the superhero story of Christchurch – which is why it is ‘an’ origin story, not ‘the’ origin story.
Who is Koha? She’s modelled on a real person – who will remain anonymous - and represents the potential we have for inclusivity and diversity in our brighter future. Her name, in Māori, means “Gift”. This name has a lot of weight to it, and we were honoured that Matapopore gave us their blessing in allowing her to be called that. If you’re curious about why we chose Koha to speak to the future of this story, here’s a great video by Re: news on the idea of representation.
Interested to learn more about the legend of Aoraki and his brothers? Read it as told by Ngāi Tahu, here.
The colour scheme of the hoardings was carefully chosen with reference to the CCEC branding profile, with the rest of the colours being inspired by the Dulux “Colours of New Zealand” collection. Here, Aoraki is coloured with “Aoraki Blue” and “Fox Glacier White”, while Koha’s tee is “Franz Josef Grey”, and her jeans are “Taylor’s Mistake”. All of the colours reference Canterbury, with the exception of the glaciers. The least-used colour (for effect) is “Lake Pukaki Purple”. Colours are printed on PVC canvases with latex-based ink in a special wide-format printing press at Adgraphix in Riccarton.
The Kaupapa: These five values appear in a document created by Matapopore outlining the urban design guidelines, specifically for use in Christchurch. After reading the document in the first few days of this project, we decided that instead of simply trying to implement the values in the artwork, it could be more powerful to share the philosophy of the kaupapa with visitors so that we can start a conversation about how these values are still very relevant, and important, today. Read the urban design guidelines for yourself here.
Matapopore didn’t just provide documentation to outline the kaupapa – they were instrumental in helping me produce artwork that would be culturally inclusive and respectful to our mana whenua. Many of the panels you see here have been sketched and re-sketched up to 5-10 times before artwork was ‘finalised’ with ink line work (and then coloured digitally in Adobe Illustrator). I am very grateful to the team at Matapopore for lending their time, support, and spirit to this project to help me produce something more meaningful and authentic.
This ship is the Randolph, one of the 'first four ships', as sketched from a painting created in the 1870s.
My father was born British and spent some of his later childhood in Christchurch, after arriving in New Zealand with his family on RMS Ruahine, the ship you see here. I put this ship in the hoardings as another reference to the different ways people immigrated to New Zealand over the last few hundred years – and a personal nod to the memory of my grandfather, John Richard Powell, who passed away just a few days before RE:Edit was certified as a company in 2015.
Many of us now arrive by airline! The Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet, Queen of the skies (and sometimes referred to affectionately as “Daddy’s Yacht”) carried many visitors and new residents to our lands. The 747 was revolutionary in the 1980s for its ability to cross the Pacific Ocean non-stop, and the last 747 to fly with Air New Zealand livery was decommissioned in 2014. Don’t forget to share your CHCH Arrival story, even if you’re a resident and have lived here all your life – whether you arrive by road, sea, rail, or sky – when did you first ‘arrive’ in Christchurch? What has changed between then and now? What hasn’t?
Every metre of hoarding artwork took an average of 5 hours of research, 2 hours of illustration, 1 hour of logistical work and 5 minutes of consultation! (At 113.45m long, you can imagine that is a lot of hours). One of the ‘guiding’ documents of the process was the Convention Centre Cultural Narrative, a confidential document that examines the cultural significance behind convention centres (and other forms of mass gathering places in both European and Māori culture throughout documented history). It was understanding the philosophy behind our gathering, and where we gather – and why - that has been an interest of mine throughout RE:Edit’s works. It is also intriguing to think that when the first four ships were arriving in Lyttelton, the world’s first ‘convention and exhibition’ centre was being opened on the other side of the world.