Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu has moved to new premises at 15 Show Place, Addington.

The move to Te Whare o Te Waipounamu signals the coming together of all Christchurch Ngāi Tahu staff for the first time since the February 22, 2011 earthquake that ultimately resulted in the demolition of Te Waipounamu House in Hereford Street. With the exception of Ngāi Tahu Seafood, who remain at their established base near the airport, all staff will be unified in the spirit of kotahitanga. It is the next step in the journey for our organisation and staff, as we decide on a permanent future base.

Over 100 Te Rūnanga staff moved out to the old Wigram Air Base in the two or three days following the February 2011 earthquake, some relocating into offices within the old control tower and others setting up in a large, open-plan Megacom, and in the scattering of prefabricated, relocatable buildings that bordered the carpark and the old aircraft hangars.

It’s been a busy four years at the Wigram base, as staff have adjusted to their temporary post-earthquake offices – not always comfortably, as the temporary buildings have been hard to keep at a steady, equitable temperature.

That aside, many of us have formed quite an attachment to the 1930s control tower – a heritage building. But we had a limited resource consent to occupy the Wigram site and it’s time for us to reconsolidate as an organisation.

The Wigram site has had a colourful history. The site was acquired by Ngāi Tahu as part of the Settlement and after serving as an airbase for 90 years, Wigram Air Force training ended in 1995. The base was closed to commercial traffic in 2009.

In late 2009, Ngāi Tahu Property began redeveloping the Wigram aerodrome site as a new housing development. Named Wigram Skies, the development proposes 1600 residential sections, a shopping centre, and an industrial area in the east adjoining the existing industrial area.

The aerodrome’s old sealed runway forms the development’s main street, aptly named The Runway, with other street names having an aviation, flight or sky theme. The historic control tower and hangars remain as they are heritage protected buildings.

As we move to our next abode I am reminded of the early Ngāi Tahu Trust Board start-up in 1928 and note that our place of business during this time would have been humble. I truly hope we continue to carry the wairua of this with us into Te Whare o Te Waipounamu.

I am grateful to be leading this part of the journey and I look forward to manaaki whānau and guests in the most respectful way possible. Nā Arihia Bennett, CEO, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu.

0000Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu staff outside the old Wigram Airbase control tower offices.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu staff outside the old Wigram Airbase control tower offices.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu staff before the move.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu staff before the move.