In the art of the city

The third biennial Harbourview Sculpture Trail is set to take Te Atatu Peninsula by storm from today.

If you stand on the edge of Danica Pond - it's a place in Te Atatu, not a person - and start digging a tunnel straight through to the other side of the globe, you'll be in Spain.

Artist Simon Gray, from Wellington, has constructed a rubbish-tin telephone/ listening device called You Say Hola, I say Hello on the spot which is the polar opposite of a Spanish village. Listen hard and you'll hear audio, made by children from Rutherford Primary School, which pays homage to this geographical tie. Gray likes to think those who see and hear the installation will think about our similarities and how we're all humans sharing the same planet.

It's one 35 artworks, produced by 40 artists, at the verdant Harbourview Orangihina Peoples Park, on the Te Atatu Peninsula, where the third biennial Harbourview Sculpture Trail is on.

It gets bigger every season; this year around 20,000 visitors are expected.

Artist Simon Gray installs his sculpture called "you say hola, I say Hello". Photo / Nick Reed
Artist Simon Gray installs his sculpture called "you say hola, I say Hello". Photo / Nick Reed

Visit on a sunny day, when a lazy breeze rolls across the Waitemata Harbour, and you'll feel your spirits soar. There's the location itself - salt marshes, ponds, native flaxes and bush all in blooming great health - and then there's the backdrop: spectacular views of Waitemata Harbour, Rangitoto in the distance, and Auckland City. You might be able to see the city, but you'll feel a million miles away from it.

Then there's the art, a wide range of sculpture and outdoor work which reflects the local history and natural environment of the salt marshes which hug the Peninsula. Even before the official Welcome Mat by Gina Ferguson, made from recycled rubber, wool and plastic ties, there are delightful surprises. These include a brightly-coloured collage-type work, made by students from Te Atatu Intermediate using milk bottle lids. They were inspired by research on the environmental effects of plastic on the planet and especially the ocean.

On the trail itself, established and emerging artists have let their imaginations run riot to beautiful effect. Margaret Johnston's Links to the Land entirely made from plastic bags, rolls and ripples through water and across land; The Kumara Planters, by Penny Howard, is a graceful and evocative reminder of the early use of the land by Maori; the delicate Piwakawaka Fusion, was created by Rose Petterson using 3D printing to create delicate-looking small white birds.

Maria Munkowits (front) poses with Emily Rose as Birds of Paradise by artist Morag Brownlie. Photo / Nick Reed
Maria Munkowits (front) poses with Emily Rose as Birds of Paradise by artist Morag Brownlie. Photo / Nick Reed

Things get hands-on with Tactical Magic's Dig 3, set up like an archaeological site where you can take a metal detector and trowel and hunt and dig for treasures. A collaboration between artists Niki White and Ken Merrick and blacksmith Nate Savill, there are around 200 laser-cut steel pieces to be found. Those lucky enough to find them get to keep them.

Savill says there's been a move toward making public art more interactive and there's plenty of opportunity for that along the Harbourview Sculpture Trail. Audrey Boyle's Flowerpower uses several hundred metres of floral dress fabric, Dacron, catenary wire and fence posts and looks like a garden in full bloom.

Look more closely and start to play with the fabric and you'll find some is woven into the shape of guns; stand back and it begins to appear a bit like the twisted barbed wire that surrounded WWI and WWII trenches. Boyle says the installation was prompted by a sepia photo of her great-grandfather, William, standing among flowers, shortly before he went to fight in Europe around 1916. He never returned.

In 1943, a gun emplacement was built on Harbourview Rd in Te Atatu, around the same time William's nephews, Dudley and Harry, embarked for WWII. Dudley died fighting; Harry, Boyle's grandfather, told her the story of the war: "He showed me a photo of rubble and said, 'this is where my friend is'". She wants those who see Flowerpower to reflect on the futility of war.

Artist Audrey Boyle stands amongst her sculpture, "flowerpower" on Thursday. Photo / Nick Reed
Artist Audrey Boyle stands amongst her sculpture, "flowerpower" on Thursday. Photo / Nick Reed

Need to know

The Harbourview Sculpture Trail is open daily from today until Monday, March 28 from 10am - 6pm with twilight hours (last entries at 7.30pm) on Fridays and Saturdays. Gourmet food trucks and roving entertainment are on site from 5pm on these special days.

Everyday on-site activities include an interactive Kid's Creation Station presented in partnership with Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery, a pop-up Art Shop, the Schools Art Pathway and the opportunity to vote in the People's Choice Award.

Public curator tours run every Monday and Saturday at 10am and 1pm; there is no extra charge or booking required to join a public curator tour. Private curator tours run every Monday and Saturday at 11.30am and 3pm and can be booked by arrangement by emailing

The Harbourview Sculpture Trail is the flagship activity of the registered charity Peninsula Arts Inc.

Tickets are available from; more information on

- Weekend magazine

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