A Tauranga artist's work will be on permanent display in Whangarei after winning a local competition.

The kereru-shaped Kaitiaki Manu.
The kereru-shaped Kaitiaki Manu.

Rex O'Brien won the top prize at the Whangarei Sculpture Symposium with a kereru-shaped "Kaitiaki Manu".

The 10-day sculpting marathon - where artists produced works "live" on Whangarei's Hihiaua Peninsula - brought in more than $60,000 for the 24 artists involved. Mr O'Brien's work was named the winner by judges Andrea Beazley, Keith Grinter, Paul McDonald and mayor Sheryl Mai.

The wood pigeon sculpture was bought by Creative Northland for $6000 and would be displayed on the city's Hatea Loop sculpture walk.


Mr O'Brien was rapt.

"I had an idea of what I wanted to do when I went up there. We were given the theme of migration so I selected a rock that was going to fit with what I wanted to do."

Mr O'Brien selected a large slab of basalt rock from Maungatapere and began with his idea, making slight changes along the way. "For me it's an organic process, where you basically have an outline to start with," he said. "Once I'm moving on with those lines I'm seeing more and taking things away too, from the picture I had in my head."

The sculpture took Mr O'Brien eight days to complete.

"It's a good event for public exposure. We had a lot of people through."

Mr O'Brien has previously run sculpture symposiums in Tauranga as part of the New Zealand Garden and Art Festival. additional reporting Northern Advocate