Lincoln Tan

Lincoln Tan is the New Zealand Herald’s diversity, ethnic affairs and immigration senior reporter.

Heavy metal McCaw may transform city

Yi Yang has been sculpting larger-than-life versions of Transformer robots since he was 19. Photo / Natalie Slade.
Yi Yang has been sculpting larger-than-life versions of Transformer robots since he was 19. Photo / Natalie Slade.

New York Harbour has the Statue of Liberty and the Waitemata Harbour could soon have its very own Statue of Victory - a 14m-tall metal All Black figure in the image of Richie McCaw.

A Chinese sculptor will be approaching the Auckland Council next week with plans to construct the statue using scrap metal from old cars. He hopes it can be placed on Queens Wharf.

Yi Yang, 24, a student at AUT University, wants to present the statue - expected to cost about $20,000 to build - as a gift to the city.

"All great cities have got a statue, and I think it is about time Auckland has one too," said Mr Yang.

"This statue will celebrate the pride of New Zealanders in winning last year's Rugby World Cup, and of course honour the All Blacks who brought that pride to the country."

Yang is fanatical about Transformers and has been sculpting larger-than-life replicas of the robots with two friends since he was 19.

The hobby has since turned into a business and he has been commissioned to sculpt giant figures in China and Singapore.

His 14m creation of Autobot leader Optimus Prime, which he sold for about $50,000, is now on permanent display at the Shenyang Centre business district, and others are at the Transformers theme park ride in Universal Studios Singapore.

"I am very sure the All Blacks statue will be a huge tourist attraction, and will also be a new Auckland landmark," said Yang.

He had not thought about a name for the sculpture, but felt it could be fitting to call it the "Statue of Victory".

Metal McCaw would be made in China and shipped here in parts tobe reconstructed, he said - just asthe Statue of Liberty had been made in France and its 350 individual pieces were shipped to New York in 214 crates.

Yang said he was finalising the proposal, plans and design for the four-storey-high statue and would be approaching the council within the next few days.

Auckland Council spokeswoman Angela Jones said the council's public art team would consider the proposal when it was received.

Waterfront Auckland spokesman Luke Henshall said the plan had to be carefully considered.

"While we're the first to admit Richie is a legend, large-scale public artworks such as this would need to be carefully considered as part of the overall design approach for the high-profile open spaces of Queens Wharf," he said

If the plan is approved, it would not be the first statue of a New Zealand icon to be sculpted by a Chinese artist. The statue of Sir Edmund Hillary, which has become a landmark in Orewa, north of metropolitan Auckland, is the work of sculptor Chen Weiming.

- NZ Herald

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