Totem pole removed for conservation

The Totem Pole was carved in 1959 by Chief Lelooska, a descendant of a long line of chiefs of the Cherokee Nation. It is a smaller replica of a similar pole in Portland Oregon and was a gift to the people of Christchurch from the Oregon Centennial Commission and the Portland Zoological Society, in appreciation of hospitality given to personnel of Operation Deep Freeze.

It was shifted from Hagley Park to its current location in 1980. The totem pole has not undergone any maintenance during its three decades at the airport and recent inspection by a timber conservator indicated the paint work and wood require some maintenance.

Christchurch Airport CEO Jim Boult says CIAL staff have been in contact with the descendants of Chief Lelooska and had their approval for a Maori (Waitaha Whanau) powhiri to be carried out prior to the removal. 

He says the airport company will also provide a transcript and photos of the ceremony to the appropriate First Nations representative and notify the Oregon Centennial Commission and Portland Zoological Society progress of the conservation work.

The totem pole will eventually be re-positioned closer to the International Antarctic Centre and the base of the American Antarctic Programme, which has had strong links with Christchurch Airport for more than 50 years.

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