Arterial art lifted in

A panel being craned into position this week. PHOTO: RHYVA VAN ONSELEN
A panel being craned into position this week. PHOTO: RHYVA VAN ONSELEN
Renowned Kiwi singer-songwriter Marlon Williams has contributed to Maori artwork etched into precast concrete panels that are being installed this week alongside Queenstown’s CBD bypass.

The first three of 19 large panels — each weighing between four and 11 tonnes — were craned on Tuesday onto the Melbourne St/Beetham St retaining wall beside St Joseph’s Church.

Intricate designs and phrases were etched into the sandblasted panels — visible from Stanley St — after they were manufactured in Christchurch.

According to a newsletter produced by Ka Huanui a Tahuna — the transport project alliance behind the bypass and CBD improvement projects — the artwork was developed by Kai Tahu/Ngai Tahu artists Jennifer Rendall, her son Williams and te reo expert, waiata composer and mana whenua representative Paulette Tamati-Elliffe.

The phrases are the result of a collaboration between Williams and Tamati-Elliffe and refer to wahi tupuna — local places of significance to Kai Tahu.

The kaupapa, or strategy, was shared with students of St Joseph’s School — which is situated right above the retaining wall — in 2020.

"These place names also feature in the school’s haka," the newsletter states.

It says there’s no room for error when the panels are lowered into position, because the retaining wall’s angled back on the corner of two sloped roads — "it creates very complex geometry with very tight tolerances".

"While the panels are being installed, a surveyor will need to be constantly onsite to ensure their placement is millimetre-perfect.

"No pressure!"

In May, Mountain Scene revealed Queenstown’s council had approved a $20.61million budget increase to the Arterial Stage 1 budget, to take it to $108.84m — massively up from a provisional budget of $49.50m in the original 10-year plan.

Of that, $50m was coming from the government’s infrastructure reference group fund.

The project’s due for completion late next year.