This presentation provides case studies about the public art sound installations Kumutoto Stream and The Wet Index as examples of how art can provide a platform for increasing community understanding and appreciation of urban water issues.
Prior to the launch of Kumutoto Stream in February 2014, few Wellingtonians knew about the existence of a stream at Woodward Street, which connects The Terrace office district to Lambton Quay. The stream was also the site of the former Kumutoto Pā, home to two Māori chiefs and a regional hub for the flax trade.
Like so many urban streams, Kumutoto was incorporated into the city's stormwater network and largely forgotten about. But the stream is neither lost, nor dead: it flows under the CBD and still supports an urban ecosystem.
Today, following the installation of Kumutoto Stream, those entering the Woodward Street pedestrian tunnel experience the immersive sounds of trickling water and abundant native birdlife, which provide a moment of relief from the cityscape above which offers no green space or for those inhabiting its office blocks.
Adjacent to this, a temporary installation entitled The Wet Index displays water collected from the source of the stream.
By showing the stream, and recreating the sounds of its former environment, these pubic art pieces prompt us to ask important questions about what is lost when we culvert streams underground.