Significant sculpture set to greet visitors to Rotorua

Visitors travelling to and from Rotorua will soon be welcomed by a 12-metre-high sculpture which will be more than just a piece of art – but a culmination of Māori history and evolving arts and crafts, set to gain international attention.

The sculpture will form the southern gateway to the city, aligning with the cultural concept of a waharoa (gateway), where before entering the area, you acknowledge the cultural significance of the place and its ancestors.

Due to be completed in July 2017, the sculpture is located opposite the entrance to Te Puia l NZMACI and has been designed by their tumu (head) of Te Takapū o Rotowhio (National Stone and Bone Carving School) Stacy Gordine and the team.

“It gives a sense of arrival and wonderment, while serving as a sculptural expression of the cultural narratives behind the formation of the region’s geothermal features,” says Mr Gordine.

Inspiration behind the sculpture
The sculpture tells the history of the local tribe, Te Arawa, and its tohunga (high priest) Ngātoro-i-rangi, leader of the Te Arawa canoe from Hawaiiki, who was caught in a blizzard of snow and ice on Mount Tongariro.

He called to his sisters in Hawaiiki for help, who sent the demi-god siblings Te Hoata and Te Pupu to deliver heat, creating geysers, hot pools and volcanoes along the way, until fire reached him.

“Part of the inspiration for the design also came from putting a camera down the world famous Pōhutu Geyser at Te Puia and seeing how erupted water and steam created a vortex,” explains Mr Gordine.

“The inner vortex of the sculpture is symbolic of the spiritual power and mana of Ngātoro-i-rangi and his call to his sisters reaching skyward. The outer vortex symbolically surrounds the inner vortex, with heat and warmth bought from Hawaiiki by the demi-god siblings.”

There are eight main bands in total (inner and outer) which also represent Ngā Pūmanawa e Waru o Te Arawa – the eight beating hearts that are the eight iwi within Te Arawa confederation of tribes.

Located in the middle of the new Hemo Groge roundabout, the sculpture embodies navigation and travelling, both ancient and modern.

Visitor safety
Te Puia special projects manager, Nick Dallimore says the roundabout will provide manuhiri (visitors) safe access into Te Puia, as well as a safer journey for those travelling through.

“The roundabout has three connector roads, an additional access way to the Te Puia carpark, as well as three underpasses for pedestrians and cyclists.

“A temporary by-pass has been put in place for the public to use until the new roundabout is open and the by-pass is removed. During this time, people movers are available at scheduled times to transfer visitors from the southern car park to the main entrance.”