Please join us as Doctor Te MarieTau presents Rebuilding Christchurch After the Earthquake: Incorporating Maori Values in New Zealand's Most English City.

Te Maire is the FSI-Humanities Center International Visitor at Stanford and the director of the Ngai Tahu Research Centre at the University of Canterbury. He took up this position in 2011, having previously been a Senior Lecturer in History at the University. Te Maire belongs to Ngai Tahu, the principal tribe of the South Island, and lives in Tuahiwi, the largest village of that tribe. During his years as an undergraduate and later as a postgraduate student at Canterbury, Te Maire helped iwi leaders with their land claim to the Waitangi Tribunal, with a particular emphasis on traditional food-gathering practices. As a specialist historian on oral traditions, tribal genealogies and indigenous knowledge systems, Te Maire was used as an expert witness and historian for the settlement of the Ngai Tahu Claim - the largest settlement in its day between Maori and the Crown for lands wrongfully taken. Since then he has had a number of publications dealing with oral traditions and the relationship between indigenous knowledge systems and how they intersect with western science.


Rebuilding Christchurch city after the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes is a significant challenge for its citizens and the country as a whole.  Christchurch has traditionally presented itself as New Zealand's 'most English' of its cities. Christchurch's founding elders imagined the city to be a 'vertical slice' of England transplanted to the Southern hemisphere where the class system and its traditions would be retained.  Maori did not feature in the story of Christchurch and were soon segregated and marginalized onto Native Reserves in the rural regions.  The ‘English’ story, equal parts myth and fact, is being reassessed against the reality of city that is being rebuilt. Over seventy percent of the city is being demolished and nearly all of its heritage buildings have fallen. Out of the ashes of a broken city a new narrative for Christchurch needs to be told, particularly in light of the growing economic and political might of Ngai Tahu, the principal tribe of the South Island, and a significant land owner in the central city.     

Following the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011, the Crown passed the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act 2011.  This Act has made Ngāi Tahu a leading stakeholder in the redevelopment of the city along with local councils and CERA, (Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority) the body with overall responsibility for the rebuild.  The leading question before all parties is, how do we re-create a city while maintaining its ancestral (English /Māori) past?  How do designers ensure Māori values and sense of community are incorporated into New Zealand’s most English city.