Iconic Crankworx hot seat uniquely NZ

The much coveted Crankworx downhill hot seat will be one to go down in the history books this year in Rotorua as a true work of art, with a uniquely Kiwi waharoa (carving) as the focal point.

The hot seat is part of the Crankworx Rotorua Downhill presented by iXS. The racing will be held on Friday 27 March at Skyline Rotorua, and the hot seat hosts the fastest rider throughout racing until a winner is crowned. As times are beaten throughout each category, race leaders in the hot seat are replaced by those who beat their times.

Traditional Māori wood carving donated to Crankworx event in Rotorua

The tomokanga (carving), which stands approximately 3.5 metres high, has been donated by Te Puia|New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute (NZMACI) to reflect the region’s unique culture and heritage. Carved by Taparoto Nicholson, Pou Tuarā ki te Tumuaki (cultural adviser) and Rotorua kaumātua (elder) Mauriora Kingi in the 1980s, it took approximately five weeks to carve and create. The piece was used to practice the art of replicating other carvings, an important part of restoration work.

Mr Nicholson says it is great the carving is being used for a purpose such as the hot seat.

“It’s neat that it is being used for the Crankworx Rotorua downhill race, it gives the downhill title and achievement some impetus – and is appropriate in terms of the race’s location and rich history. It is something really unique that we can add to the event’s already strong identity.”

Te Puia chief executive Tim Cossar says Te Puia|NZMACI’s involvement in Crankworx reflects their support of such events and what they mean for the city.

“Crankworx is a big deal for Rotorua, it really is a game changer for our city so it’s fantastic that we are involved. Events such as this are inspiring and make an important difference to our brand and the way the destination is perceived.

“For Rotorua, Crankworx has the potential to have an even greater impact on the world stage than the Rugby World Cup – it has given us huge profile overseas already thanks to the number of top international athletes and media that have been in town over recent days and the increased visitors that will come as a result.

“As the first Crankworx event of three, the next two years have the potential to be even bigger and better, and continue to put our destination in the world spotlight, seeing Rotorua become even more world-famous for its event experiences. These bigger-picture benefits are one of the reasons why Te Puia is proud to support Crankworx.”

Crankworx Rotorua event director Takurua Mutu says they are grateful for Te Puia|NZMACI’s involvement.

“As a legendary part of the downhill event, the hot seat will be taken to a whole other level at Crankworx Rotorua, with race leaders taking a seat at the base of the beautiful waharoa. It’s the best hot seat Crankworx I’ve ever seen – it’s a work of art in more ways than one.

“It’s really important for us to demonstrate that the Crankworx courses are uniquely Rotorua – a site with lakes and trees in the background could almost be anywhere in the world, but there is nothing more identifying than Maori culture. We're proud to bring this to the world.”

Te Puia|NZMACI hosted the opening powhiri and media event on Tuesday, and will also be the site of the start line for the Giant Toa Enduro race this Saturday. Other carvings and waharoa have been installed on the slopestyle start line, as well as dotted throughout the course.