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Araiteuru. Ara nui. Ara roa. Ara ake rā The Epic Museum Journey 

After 150 years, Canterbury Museum has embarked on an exciting new journey – a journey that has two distinct but converging passages.

The first is a physical journey to redevelop the Museum buildings. The second is a cultural development journey focused on forming stronger and deeper relationships with mana whenua through honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the opportunities true partnership offers all our communities.

The Museum's epic redevelopment journey began with a Mammoth move; everything from waka to the tiniest insect had to be moved out of the Rolleston Avenue buildings.

Araiteuru was one of the early waka hourua (double hulled canoe) to make the migration to Aotearoa New Zealand and the first to reach Te Waipounamu the South Island. It is the name gifted by mana whenua to the Māori gallery that will be the physical and spiritual heart of the new Museum. This will be the meeting place where the house Te Whare a Tahu will stand and where Museum visitors will receive the welcome and warmth of mana whenua.

The word Araiteuru can mean “pathway to or from the west”, suggesting that the name of the waka is linked to its journey across Te Moana-a-kiwa the Pacific Ocean to Te Waipounamu.

There is little doubt that Araiteuru speaks of whakapapa, voyaging, navigation, discovery, new horizons, tikanga, and of bravery and leadership. It also speaks to the great journey that lies ahead as we reimagine and redevelop not just the buildings but the institution itself.

Araiteuru – Ara nui. Ara roa. Ara ake rā – The explorer: A great journey. An extended journey. A revealing journey is the name we have chosen for the journey with the blessing of our Ōhākī o Ngā Tīpuna (iwi liaison group). This journey will see us acknowledge the work of those who have come before us and lift our gaze towards a new horizon that fully embraces Titiriti and the place of mana whenua in the Museum.

Waka hourua (double hulled waka), are single vessels with two separate hulls lashed together for stability – strong enough to withstand powerful waves, yet agile enough to navigate the ocean currents and deliver their crew safely to their new home. This is the hope we hold for our voyage as we prepare to set sail from our sheltered shores, charting a course through deep water and the promise of relationships built on understanding and partnership.

Like every journey it starts with the first step which was the closing of our beloved Museum in April 2023. Now that we are settled in a temporary home close by, we can start building our waka hourua. It will take time and effort. We will need experts to help. We will have to learn new skills and ways of doing things if our waka is going to be seaworthy enough to make the journey.

We invite you to join us on Araiteuru – Ara nui. Ara roa. Ara ake rā, our exciting journey to create a new Museum that celebrates people and place. Come with us as we fashion our waka hourua and gain the knowledge we need to sail and navigate a course towards a future where the winds of equity and understanding fill our sails.

View our update on the Museum redevelopment and launch of Araiteuru below. Watch until the end for a fly through of the new Museum.

Signal of Change
Fayne Robinson – a master carver, artist, visionary and storyteller – is one of the outstanding Ngāi Tahu artists who will be making their mark on the Museum.

Fayne conceived the new Museum branding which was first brought to life on our website by Ngāti Makō artist and designer Morgan Mathews-Hale. The kahukura, symbolic of a rainbow, now sits alongside the rose window-inspired Museum logo. You will increasingly see it as a signal of change in the organisation.

Fayne drew his inspiration from ancient carved whale teeth in the Museum collection found at Kawate/Little Okains Bay in the rohe of Te Rūnanga o Koukourarata. Thank you to the rūnanga for allowing us to use this image.

In te ao Māori, to move forward you must always acknowledge your past. The ancient chevron shapes link us to the past – to the first people of this land and to Araiteuru the voyaging waka that brought them here. Each chevron is reinterpreted as a link to our whakapapa and speaks of arrival – each has a different number of notches symbolising the deepening of those genealogical links to our ancestors.

The chevrons with a single notch represent Waitaha, the first people of this land; two notches denote the arrival of Ngāti Māmoe and three notches the arrival of Ngāi Tahu. The chevrons with four notches acknowledge all the people and races that reside in Waitaha and Aotearoa today.

The three bold concentric circles draw their inspiration from the classical rose window, a prominent feature of the Mountfort-designed buildings weaving together Māori and Pākeha narratives. The circles imitate ripples travelling across water away from their source and beginning their great journey.

Ancient inspiration
Chevroned amulets, usually carved from whale ivory, are a rare and enigmatic form of personal adornment from early Aotearoa New Zealand. Although the particular significance to their wearers has been lost , the skill evident in their execution attests to their value.

They are named for the chevrons, or Vs, often resembling stylised legs, typically present on both long edges. There is a considerable variety in the few chevroned amulets that have been found. Because no complete examples have ever been recovered in a securely archaeological context, ideas about their age are based on stylistic similarities to personal adornments such as whale-tooth and turtle shell pendants found in East Polynesia.

Made from whale tooth ivory, this amulet, found at Kawate/Little Okains Bay on Te Pātaka o Rākaihautū/Banks Peninsula, has paired chevrons down each side and a suspension hole at the top. The main design feature is a stylised human face with eyes, a long thin nose and an open mouth. Viewed from the side a protruding tongue is clearly visible. The features are also slightly reptilian in style – a motif found in other early examples of design in Aotearoa.

Reprinted from House of Treasures: 150 Objects from Canterbury Museum Ngā Taonga Tuku Iho. Canterbury Museum, 2020. Image: Jane Ussher