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Welcome to the Transitional Economic Zone of Aotearoa, in New Brighton, Christchurch.

For a week from 25 November the Transitional Economic Zone of Aotearoa will be the hub for new projects by a dozen artists from around New Zealand, working with architecture, music, photography, light and digital media, involving the participation of Christchurch communities. 

TEZA explores how a group of artists might visit and exchange with others for the local good. Turning the capitalist idea of the special economic zone on its head - where usually regulations are lifted to allow a foreign company to extract resources at the local community’s expense - TEZA will be a site for exchanging ideas, and the workshop and presentation of projects that are about new systems of exchange. TEZA aims to recognise how artists and the public can all contribute to society employing alternative economic models.

Since the 'quakes, Christchurch has been a hotbed of such zeal and innovation. TEZA hopes to bolster this energy by introducing engagement and collaboration from artists from outside Christchurch.

Working actively with the community of New Brighton, the physical hub of the zone will create a welcoming space created by Tim Barlow and Te Urutahi Waikerepuru. Many works will extend out from the zone creating new lines through the suburb and city to sites of significance, including a soundwork by Phil Dadson, a light work by Kura Puke and Stuart Foster and a performance work by Mark Harvey, extending on hisProductive Bodies work with Letting Space during 2012’s NZ International Festival of the Arts.

Also working with Letting Space again is Kim Paton whose waste forecasting project will extend on her celebrated Free Store project of 2010. Extending a project first presented in New Mexico in 2012, Simon Kaan presents Kai Hau Kai, a Ngāi Tahu exchange working with communities to explore the concept of sharing of food, and its importance in creating and maintaining social and economic relationships. Photographic artistsDavid Cook and Tim J Velling will work with students of Freeville School (on the eve of their school being merged) to take a visual stocktake of their social and ecological environment, and extending out into publishing, zine creator Kerry Ann Lee will work with locals to provide a TEZA Transmission, a publishing office for the ‘local outsider’. Richard Bartlett from Loomio co-operative will present an open site for presentation of projects that have recognised principles of generosity and abundance.

The project will also connect and provide a platform for discussion of many of the local initiatives already underway: Ministry of Awesome, Gap Filler, Rekindle, the New Brighton Timebank, as well as recent projects like FESTA.

TEZA is being produced with the support of Creative New Zealand, Renew New Brighton, Massey University, WINTEC, University of Auckland, Ministry of Awesome, Life in Vacant Spaces, The Physics Room, Loomio and many others.


In a time when places are increasingly treated as globally homogenous, TEZA - the Transitional Economic Zone of Aotearoa - asks how a group of New Zealand artists can travel under a singular identity and work in a specific place meaningfully as outside agents with local communities.

TEZA creates a temporary community from which artists create creative projects working with the surrounding public. These projects will respond to the current strong need for the exploration of new systems of exchange. 

The Transitional Economic Zone of Aotearoa has its first iteration in November 2013 in Christchurch, a place where people have already had to creatively rethink fundamental ways of interacting and organising.

TEZA provides a zone for playfully extending some of this public thinking, and exploring how artists from outside Christchurch might play a meaningful role in the city’s transitional period, and increase dialogue with the rest of the country. There have been many transitional architectural projects in Christchurch, but TEZA’s principal focus is social and transactional, rather than physical.

Producers and curators of the TEZA, Letting Space wish to explore how artists can establish a collective environment outside of galleries and institutions which allows for the exchange, development and banking of ideas. One that assists permanent change and the grounding of people who themselves feel in transition.

TEZA will provide physical and digital media platforms that extend its reach beyond its physical site. In doing so it seeks to break down isolation of all kinds, creating links and encouraging new kinds of trade and currency locally, nationally and internationally.

The Journey Thus Far

Discussion with an inspiring and varied community of artists, designers and community entrepreneurs began with a workshop in April at The Physics Room, Christchurch and has continued since, through collective decision-making digital platform Loomio.  

TEZA has been two years in development, with some initial projects by Simon Kaan, Kura Puke, Julian Priest and Kim Paton appearing at the ISEA conference in New Mexico in 2012.

Experimenting with a Model

TEZA It is about how temporary experimental art projects can lead to permanent change - because life is transitional, a series of fleeting moments, rather than one governed by permanent structures.

The TEZA model is adapted from that of the Special Economic Zone (SEZ), commonly employed by multinational companies in Asia and Africa to extract resources from a territory. Yet while the SEZ gives people freedom to extract and destroy without oversight, TEZA aims to create an autonomous zone that not only provides freedom from coercion but also the freedom to create new relationships. This allows for the recognition of new systems of value and forms of exchange.

 “The SEZ,” writes Richard Meros, “is a space within a nation that is dedicated to the theology of global capitalism. Think of it like the state of the Vatican City in Rome. Each zone is surrounded on all sides by a nation, and this nation suffuses the zone with it’s culture, but the zone operates under it’s own legislative conditions…

“TEZA is pronounced ‘teaser’. A teaser is that which previews the event and which promotes the event. While a SEZ might tease that a brighter future is just around the corner if a sacrifice is made today, TEZA offers a definite end to the economic zone.”

Letting Space wish to explore then how the SEZ model might be turned from exploitative to beneficial ends. For example: facilitating an understanding of local issues and resources for visitors; aiding sustainable development and growth; and welcoming the contribution and settlement of outsiders, whilst maintaining the integrity and sovereignty of those already resident.

TEZA is also an experiment in how a distinctly New Zealand autonomous zone might operate. From issues of foreign intervention to assertion of tino rangatiratanga over tribal boundaries this feels a very relevant issue in postcolonial Aotearoa. Inherent to the experiment is an exploration of biculturalism, a cultural strength in this country that needs to be built upon. How a travelling group might work culturally with those who hold mana whenua where the temporary encampment rests for example is something we seek to explore.