Into the Underworld / Ngā Mahi Rarowhenua

Chirag Jindal (ARCLAB, NZ)

Project Description

Into The Underworld / Ngā Mahi Rarowhenua is an ongoing series documenting the lava caves of Auckland – an unseen, dilapidated landscape devastated by a century of rapid urban sprawl. Unique to the volcanic region, the caves were once the site of urupā (burial) and war shelters, and are considered wāhi tapu (sacred) by local Māori groups. Reduced to urban myth under the sprawling built environment, their existence is not common knowledge to the wider public. Ongoing discoveries are unreported by the developers that destroy them, and few are expected to remain by the end of the century. Working with speleologists, Māori, landowners and local government, the project attempts to trace remnant cave sites across the city using Terrestrial LiDAR. Through a process of exploring, mapping, and revealing, Into the Underworld takes an empirical approach to bring something fictionalised and inaccessible into the domain of public visibility, offering it as something to be recognised, preserved and managed as a shared heritage.

Project Credits

Funded by the Regional Environmental and Natural Heritage grant by Auckland Council. With support and collaboration with the New Zealand Speleological Society Incorporated.

Artist Bios

Chirag Jindal (NZ): Chirag Jindal is an artist-surveyor working at the intersection of documentary journalism, new media and contemporary cartography. In 2018 Jindal launched his research-based practice ARCLAB, exploring the role of reality capture technology in documenting urban environments and dilapidating landscapes. His work has been recognised by leading international institutions, festivals & awards.