Airport totem pole removed

00:28, Jun 19 2012
totem pole
REMOVED: Makere Chapman performs a blessing ceremony for the airport's totem pole's journey today.

The totem pole which has stood at the entrance to Christchurch International Airport for more than 30 years has been removed for maintenance.

The totem pole, which stood at the roundabout outside the airport, was carved in 1959 by Chief Lelooska - a descendant of a line of Cherokee chiefs.

It was 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 had not undergone any maintenance during its three decades at the airport and a recent inspection by a timber conservator indicated the paint work and wood required work.

Christchurch Airport CEO Jim Boult said staff had been in contact with the descendants of Chief Lelooska and had their approval for a Maori powhiri to be carried out prior to the removal.  

The pole would eventually be re-positioned closer to the International Antarctic Centre.

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