Libby White

Te papakāinga o ngā Kuaka


‘Te papakāinga o ngā Kuaka’ is a series of spatial interventions that communicate the untold narratives of Waitara in the form of a bird conservational area along the New Plymouth Coastal walkway extension to Waitara. While facilitating a habitat for both the sea-birds and humans to coexist harmoniously and challenging the standard New Plymouth Coastal walkway design, the interventions weave Waitara’s unique cultural and historical narratives into multiple spaces.

These spatial interventions represent narratives of the ‘kuaka’ (bar-tailed godwit), one of Aotearoa’s endangered native sea-birds, which is specifically significant to Waitara. Designed in partnership with her whānau, who are mana whenua, this project was an opportunity to engage with Waitara locals to discover their hometown narratives, creating an inclusive design.

Libby White (Te Atiawa) is a spatial designer specifically attracted to projects that contribute to environmental awareness, heritage site access and interpretation, urban renewal, and community focussed public art.

Bachelor of Design (Hons)

PORINGI Called ‘Poringi’ this space communicates the narrative of the manu tāiko (sentry bird) flying into the sky and creating a funnel shape to call to its friends that the wind is right for flying. The Māori, who for generations observed these native sea-birds named this movement the ‘poringi’. This narrative of the kuaka is represented by its flight pattern embedded in the concrete and erected carved pou carved by local tohunga whakairo (master carver).
PARINIHINIHI KI PARITUTU The elevated lookout’s structure is inspired by watching sea-birds through the reeds of our coastal native, the Toe Toe grass. Painted kokowai on the ground identifies the distance and direction to locations in Taranaki that can be seen from this point, but also indicates unseen destinations where the kuaka journeys to each year on their non-stop flight from Aotearoa to Alaska. ‘Parinihinihi ki Paritutu’, meaning White Clifts to Paritutu, marks the specific spot this lookout sits between these two spaces.
PEKAPEKA ‘Pekapeka’ acknowledges the crossing of the hapū boundary between Puketapu hapū and Manukorihi hapū. This is represented by a pattern embedded in the concrete, depicting two weaves, one to signify each hapū. As users enter Waitara a welcoming sign articulates prominent Waitara chief Wiremu Kingi’s whakatauākī, it reads, “Waitara, the place where the godwits (kuaka) could gather when all other places were consumed by the flowing tide of settlement”. As users leave Waitara heading into the bird conservation area a sign greets them with another Wiremu Kingi whakatauākī, stating, “Lest we resemble the sea-birds which perch upon a rock”. The title ‘Pekapeka’ identifies the name of this exact piece of land, which is significant to both hapū.