"You can be strong, you can beat anything and you can always fly again in life."

These are the words of Katikati artist Paora Ariki Martin as he describes his latest sculpture erected at Te Puna Quarry Park this week.

The artwork, named Te Hokioi, was a "koha" to the park. Martin hoped people would visit the park and draw inspiration from his work. But it was the inspiration behind the artwork itself that highlighted how important it was for the sculpture to stand tall in its new home, he said.

Martin was strolling along a Whitianga beach 10 years ago when he found a large piece of kauri tree washed up on the sand. He watched the piece of kauri get battered by waves on the shoreline and thought of his best friend Karena Borell, who was battling a fierce form of cancer. Inspiration struck.


Martin decided he would sculpt the kauri into a piece of art representing strength in the honour of Borell.

He hopped in his tractor and brought the piece of wood home to begin work.

Martin said he hoped the sculpture would help his friend realise she could beat anything in life and remain strong and graceful.

Borell beat her cancer but died from another illness shortly after. Martin has long since wanted to bring the sculpture to Te Puna Quarry Park. He and Borell regularly visited it together.

"This is here in remembrance of my dear friend, but also to project strength to anyone who chooses to admire or touch it."

Martin said his friend was a huge lover of natural Māori medicine and relished in all the native trees and sculptures around the park.

"She would really love to see it here," he said emotionally.

The sculpture is surrounded with native trees, specifically Kawakawa which was Borell's favourite and they often enjoyed a tea that the leaves produced.

"This is here in remembrance of my dear friend, but also to project strength to anyone who chooses to admire or touch it."


Founding member of the Te Puna Quarry Park committee Jo Dawkins said the artwork was a wonderful addition to the grounds and would leave parkgoers "better and stronger".

A small ceremony took place Tuesday morning, with kaumatua Kihi Ngatai blessing the sculpture and Father Mark from St Joseph's Church in Te Puna blessing the surrounding garden.

The sculpture joins 47 others in the gardens, one of which that had already being done by Martin.