Climate change focus for huge sculpture

By Peter de Graaf

A 20-tonne, 10-metre-high sculpture illustrating local efforts to combat climate change will be built next to a Northland highway if a Bay of Islands hapu gets its way.

Ngati Rehia launched its vision for the giant artwork during last week's official opening of a $7.5 million realignment of State Highway 10 through Bulls Gorge, just south of Kerikeri.peter de graaf

The sculpture, to be called Te Haa o Te Ao (The Breath of the World), has been designed by internationally renowned sculptor Chris Booth of Kerikeri and Tom Hei Hei of Te Tii.

Te Runanga o Ngati Rehia trustee Nora Rameka said "the old people" had always talked about creating an entranceway for Kerikeri. The construction of the new road provided an ideal opportunity, she said.

Mr Booth said he had been inspired by nearby Mt Pokaka, the highest point in the area, which was once used to inform the hapu of significant events or warn them of impending dangers such as invasion. One of the current dangers facing Northland was climate change, he said.

"We've all seen it in our lifetimes and the effects are really frightening. It would be really good to have a sculpture in Bulls Gorge that was like a barometer, showing a record of what we're doing in terms of combating climate change."

The work would consist of 55 boulders weighing 15-20 tonnes suspended on steel cables from a 10m-high pole. A collar around the cables could be slid down the post, which had the effect of raising the rocks.

With the collar up and the boulders resting in a plane, the sculpture would show Kerikeri people were making an effort to fight climate change; the collar down with cables tense and rocks raised would show not enough was being done.

The pole would be crowned with a cast sculpture by Mr Hei Hei of three birds' heads - a kahu (hawk) looking down the gorge, a tui facing the bush and a kawau (shag) looking out to sea.

The NZ Transport Agency has provided seed funding but Ngati Rehia now has the challenge of raising the rest of the $100,000 needed.

Ngati Rehia is holding a public meeting about their sculpture proposal on Monday, April 22, at the Waipapa Resource Centre, 1520 State Highway 10 (the former Redwoods shops), from 6pm-8pm.

- Northern Advocate

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