Fresh push for statue of James K Baxter

By Laurel Stowell -
1 comment
POET'S CORNER: Elise Goodge holds a bust of James K. Baxter to which the Guyton Group Trust hopes to add a body. PHOTO/ FILE
POET'S CORNER: Elise Goodge holds a bust of James K. Baxter to which the Guyton Group Trust hopes to add a body. PHOTO/ FILE

Time is running out for New Zealand's first full-size statue of poet James K. Baxter to be made and installed at the corner of Whanganui's Guyton St.

The charitable Guyton Group Trust ut up a request for money on the Givealittle website last week. By Thursday 11 people had donated $473.

Whanganui sculptor Joan Morrell was a friend of the poet, and made a bronze bust of his head. A full-size figure would cost $100,000. The trust already has $15,000 and is applying for more.

The rush is on because Morrell is 87, and doesn't have much time left to sculpt Baxter's body.

Dunedin, where Baxter spent some of his early life, is also working towards a memorial for him.

Baxter spent his last few years at Jerusalem/Hiruharama, and wrote some of his best-known work there.

The memorial would also honour Morrell, a pioneering artist and mentor to many others. One of those she mentored, Ross Wilson, is available to do the bronze casting.

Getting the sculpture made and installed has been in the pipeline for five years. It has permission from Whanganui District Council and approval from Baxter's family and Whanganui Iwi.

It's the first stage in a planned poetry trail that will end at the Whanganui River settlement where the poet lived. Guyton St was the last place Morrell saw Baxter and he often visited the street's St Mary's Church.

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