Totem Pole of Friendship

Carved by Chief Lelooska (Cherokee), the Totem Pole of Friendship was gifted to the city in 1959 and originally stood at Little Hagley Park before being relocated to Christchurch International Airport in 1980.

Moving the Friendship Totem Pole to Christchurch Airport
Moving the Friendship Totem Pole to Christchurch Airport. © Christchurch Star

The Totem Pole of Friendship was originally carved by Chief Lelooska during the Oregon Centennial Exposition in 1959 and is a smaller replica of the pole featured at the zoological gardens in Portland, Oregon. The top figure is that of the Thunderbird, honouring Major General Chester E. McCarthy and the airmen who made the first supply drop to the South Pole in October 1956, the next is the killer whale, honouring Rear Admiral George J. Dufek and the sailors who opened sea lanes to Antarctica, the grizzly bear honours the pioneers of Oregon, the eagle is the official symbol of the United States of America and the beaver at the bottom represents the fur trade which brought explorers to Oregon.

The totem pole was gifted by the Oregon Centennial Commission and the Portland Zoological Society in appreciation of the hospitality given to personnel of Operation Deep Freeze. Initially the totem pole was erected at Little Hagley Park alongside Harper Avenue.  In 1980 it was relocated to the Christchurch International Airport.

In 2012 the totem pole was removed for restoration before being returned to its position at the airport in 2013.