Te Whāriki is a joint venture that was established in 2007 between Lincoln University and Ngāi Tahu Property Limited, a subsidiary of Ngāi Tahu Holdings which is the largest iwi organisation in the South Island.
The 118-hectares set aside for the subdivision was known as ‘The Dairy Block’, a site rich in agricultural history and of cultural significance to Ngāi Tahu. Prior to 2007 it was owned by Lincoln University and used as a functioning educational dairy farm, training Lincoln University agricultural students and providing milk for the Christchurch town supply. At least 350,000 of New Zealand’s dairy farmers were trained in dairying and animal husbandry on this property.
In the early 2000’s, realising that the dairy block formed a wedge between the University and the existing town, Lincoln University purchased another dairy farm to the northwest of the town. When the dairy block became surplus to their needs, they joined forces with Ngāi Tahu Property with the aim of creating a high quality residential development that would create a unified, modern community and link the University with the township.
Te Whāriki, which once complete will comprise a community of 2,700 people, is located on the doorstep of the existing community of Lincoln which features a number of sporting and leisure facilities, excellent educational institutions, a New World supermarket, and a growing array of restaurants, cafes, bars and retail stores.
The subdivision is a long-term investment for both parties who are passionate about creating a high quality residential development that is responsive to the environment.
A Place of Importance to Ngāi Tahu
Te Whāriki lies within the takiwā (territory) of the hapū (sub-tribe) of Ngāi Te Ruahikihiki; one of the five primary hapū of Ngāi Tahu. The pā for the hapū is at Taumutu located at the south-west end of Te Waihora (Lake Ellesmere), about 30 kilometres south of Lincoln. Ngāi Te Ruahikihiki are represented by Te Taumutu Rūnanga (a representative council) in local affairs and at the tribal table of Ngāi Tahu.
The Te Whāriki development is located on what was Te Waihora lakebed and its associated wetlands. The traditional name for the area is Tauhinu; taken from a variety of shrub that grew abundantly in the area.
In 2007, Lincoln University and Ngāi Tahu Property Limited signed a document to initiate a joint venture property development on the decommissioned Dairy Block on the west side of the university. Part of the lakes restoration has therefore included the urban design leadership that is evident in the development. Te Taumutu Rūnanga have worked closely with Ngāi Tahu Property to restore old waterways, re-establish native plants, integrate modern stormwater treatment systems and bring to life, through street and reserve names, a number of place and species names associated with Te Waihora.
As kaitiaki of the area the Rūnanga has therefore aspired to building a place that will manaaki (look after) people and in return the Rūnanga hope the residents will manaaki Te Waihora.
What does Te Whāriki mean?
Te Whāriki refers to the ‘floor mat’ or lake bed of Te Waihora (Lake Ellesmere) – home to the rich wetland and lake community that once extended to the doorstep of Lincoln and the Te Whāriki development. This symbolises a place for all to gather and meet. A whāriki is also a woven floor mat that can be found in homes and meeting places today.
Today, a whāriki is still a place that draws together families and communities – it is therefore fitting that the Te Whāriki development seeks to build a community that weaves together the current township, Lincoln University and future residents.