Christchurch city council says Cathedral SQUARE hasn’t been renamed, but renames it

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Sep 06, 2022 |

Photo: Bernard Spragg

Christchurch’s Cathedral Square has been renamed by the Christchurch City Council.

The organisation added the Māori name Whiti-reia to its title.

In an online resource, the council refers to the landmark as Whiti-reia Cathedral Square.

Two separate city developers, who didn’t want to be named, said they didn’t have a problem with the additional name, but wished the council told them before they published “expensive marketing material.”

Council Head of City Growth and Property Manager Bruce Rendall said Mana whenua indicated that the name Whiti-reia would be the most suitable for Cathedral Square, and this name has subsequently been used in various regeneration and recovery documents since 2016.

However, he said Cathedral Square had not been renamed – despite council documents saying otherwise.

Rendall said “the te reo Māori name has been used informally alongside the English name, similar to the use of Ōtautahi-Christchurch.”

“The Council embraces the use of te reo Māori names to honour the spirit and intent of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and to reflect Ōtautahi-Christchurch’s strong partnership with Ngāi Tahu.

Source: Christchurch City Council

“This can be seen in use of te reo Maori names in our parks and open spaces like Ōtākaro – Avon River, and in the gifting of names for facilities like Te Kaha – Canterbury’s Multi-Use Arena.”

In a council document, it said “Ngāi Tūāhuriri has a direct aspiration for Cathedral Square to be a clear statement of Ngāi Tahu identity.

The name given to the Square is Whiti-reia, and as the narrative written by Dr Te Maire Tau discusses, Whiti-reia is the name of the land on which St Stephen’s Church at Tuahiwi sits; it was also the name given to the Vicarage and to a garden and spring nearby at Tuahiwi.

The name of Paikea’s whare (house) was also named Whiti-reia.

Paikea was a well-known ancestor who traversed the seas to reach Aotearoa on the back of a tohorā (whale) and founded the East Coast tribe Ngāti Porou and subsequently Ngāi Tahu.

The existing cultural narrative asks that the regeneration of the Square addresses matters of spirituality; the idea of faith and spirituality should be integrated in a way that allows for the act of reflection to occur.

The act of reflection allows us to ponder personal issues in relation to the hinengaro (emotional centre).”

Christchurch’s outgoing Mayor Lianne Dalziel didn’t respond for comment.

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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