Distinctive new blue and green designs are being installed in places along the Newtown to City and Botanic Garden ki Paekākā routes.
Have your say on bike connections
They are the first of many routes where Mana Whenua Te Āti Awa Taranaki Whānui will raise the mana of special places and bring a Te Ao Māori perspective to these important transport improvements.
Designer Len Hetet says cultural narratives or stories are powerful ways to connect our past to our present and create touch points that engage and educate people on what it means to be mana whenua. Taranaki Whānui has worked with Wellington City Council to develop Whārikitia te Whenua, the cultural design story for the network.
“Te Āti Awa Taranaki Whānui narrative speaks of the great tupua Whātaitai and Ngake, who fashioned the land using seismic activity to create Te Whanganui a Tara,” shares Len. “For mana whenua this is likened to the gifting of a whāriki laid upon earth mother which intrinsically connects and binds us to the land and sea.”
The term ‘whāriki’ refers both to the plaiting technique and the mats made from it. The plaiting technique requires papa or individual patterned panels to be woven, which are then connected by intertwining threads to form a woven mat.
The bike network design rationale allows mana whenua to identify and acknowledge our papa as areas of cultural significance, and to embed the mouri (life force) into these areas, using the bike network as a metaphorical interwoven thread to bind them.
To help bring the Whārikitia te Whenua story to life, Taranaki Whānui has worked with Wellington City Council to develop the cultural expressions that link the narratives and whāriki together, which Wellingtonians will soon see when they are out and about.
Whārikitia te Whenua acknowledges we are guardians of this land and we must look after it to survive,” says Len. “Providing the means for more people to move safely through spaces while acknowledging the rich cultural history is one of the ways we are doing that.”