Hundreds of artworks adorn Auckland, highlighting our culture and diversity, finds Sarah Ell.

Art is a fundamental part of any great city. On the way to making Auckland a liveable city, Auckland Council has an active public art policy. There are already almost 400 works around the region, with new pieces continually being commissioned and installed.

The council's arts and culture manager, Kaye Glamuzina, says the policy especially aims to highlight the city's Maori identity, as well as its unique landforms, history, and its youthful and diverse population.

The council commissions temporary and permanent pieces on stand-alone sites, but also works closely with the designers of new public projects such as libraries, community centres and transport infrastructure, to incorporate art as a critical part of their overall design. Glamuzina says the Auckland Transport projects especially are a "massive opportunity" for public art. "In cities all around the world, your transport experience is critical to your sense of place. The visual links of these systems really influence how you feel about the place you are in."

Here are some of the more recent public art works to go on display around Auckland:


Te Oro, Glen Innes

A work of art in itself, the Te Oro music and performing arts centre in Glen Innes is also home to several significant new public art works. The sculptural building, designed by Archimedia, has a geometric roof form designed in collaboration with local artists Martin Leung-Wai and Petelo Esekielu, and represents a forest canopy.

The building also features six "sound sites" around its perimeter - aural art works which reflect the heritage and contemporary reality of the surrounding community, paired with carved panels.

"You see people walking around outside stopping to work out what the sound is," says Glamuzina.

The building's signage takes the form of a modern tukutuku panel designed by Alt Group in partnership with Ngati Paoa, Ngati Whatua and Ngai Tai Ki Tamaki, and created by Te Roopu Raranga o Tamaki Makaurau.

The repeated triangular pattern is a reference to nearby Maungarei (Mt Wellington).

Daniel Clifford's Spirit Level.
Daniel Clifford's Spirit Level.

South Auckland

The Toia Otahuhu Recreation Precinct, the city's newest pool, library and leisure centre, opened only early this month.

The $31 million complex includes a number of artworks, including street-art style manu (bird) paintings by Charles and Janine Williams. But the centrepiece of the library is Daniel Clifford's Spirit Level.

The work comprises more than 1600 glass globes, suspended from the ceiling of the library's central walkway, blown using the breath of local people.


"One beautiful aspect of the Otahuhu artwork is that in 30-odd years, when the work is still there, a small child can point to the work and say 'my grandmother helped make this. Her breath helped shape this work'," says Clifford.

A little further down the motorway, another playful new artwork adorns the side of what would otherwise be a utilitarian car parking building in Ronwood Ave, Manukau. The rainbow-coloured neon work Night/I Love You by Lonnie Hutchinson will be paired with Day by Reuben Paterson, which will be installed inside the car park's stairwell next year.

"We were talking about this project, and said if people were thinking about love every time they got into their car, how awesome would that be? Public art can make an everyday experience into something beautiful in a way that surprises people," Glamuzina says.

Night/I Love You by Lonnie Hutchinson.
Night/I Love You by Lonnie Hutchinson.

Waitemata Plaza, Viaduct Harbour

Finding a new home on Auckland's waterfront is Berlin-based Danish artist Jeppe Hein's Long Modified Bench (2011), which has been moved from its first-floor terrace at the Auckland Art Gallery.

The powder-coated aluminium piece, which functions as an artwork and practical place to sit or play on, was one of the temporary works commissioned for the opening of the gallery. Now illuminated at night it adds a sculptural dimension to the recently revamped Waitemata Green, tucked into the corner of the Viaduct on Customs St West.

"It looks like it was made for the space," Glamuzina says. "It looks amazing at night, and during the day there are often kids scrambling over it."

Jeppe Hein's Long Modified Bench.
Jeppe Hein's Long Modified Bench.

Dominion Rd

Two sculptures on Dominion Rd reflect the influence and contribution of Auckland's Asian populations. The temporary installation OnDo by Auckland-based South Korean artist Seung Yul Oh - a pair of apparently unsupported giant chopsticks pulling skeins of grey noodles out of the pavement at Ballantyne Square, near Valley Rd - has caused discussion and controversy, with many viewers unaware that the orange plastic barriers surrounding it at are actually part of the artwork.

Further down Dominion Rd, in the window of the New Zealand Chinese Bookstore in Balmoral, is Jin Jiangbo's Rules of Nature, the first work commissioned by Auckland Council to combines traditional artforms - in this case shanshui brush and ink-wash painting - with multimedia. Best viewed after dark, the work uses specially created software to insert the silhouettes of passersby into the painted image.

"One of the things we are seeing with contemporary art practice is that it is much more interactive, particularly in terms of how people engage with art," says Glamuzina. "This work responds to you when you move in front of it."

Jin Jiangbo's Rules of Nature.
Jin Jiangbo's Rules of Nature.


Over the past few months, the Pop project has provided Aucklanders with an interactive art experience, bringing short-term, "pop-up" art works to parks and public spaces around the inner city.

With a mission to "create happenings, things, spectacles, ideas, performances, connections and experiences ...and create an instant community on every street corner", activations by a collective of artists included noise-making ping-pong tables, percussion instruments, plinths for making human statues on, and "Word Pop", where poems and song-lyrics were bill-stickered to buildings and walls.

Glamuzina says the response to the council-co-ordinated project was very positive, with enthusiastic social media engagement and two of the installations being nominated for Best design awards.

The next round of Pop happenings will start appearing in late summer next year.

Hobsonville Point

The massive residential development at Hobsonville Point is gaining some interesting public art of its own, commissioned by the developers. The nature-inspired children's playground and John Reynolds' pole sculpture, Tiwatawata, have been joined by From the Ground Up, a series of Japanese-style gates by Tiffany Singh and Wiremu Diamond, plus the students of Hobsonville Point Primary; the sinuous Estuarine by Louise Purvis, which adorns the gabion wall on Launch Rd leading down to the farmers' market; and most recently stone sculpture, Heart of Stumps, Tool, Clip, by Steve Woodward, at the intersection of Hobsonville Point Rd and Buckley Ave, bringing the total of new works around the development to 10.

Need to know

• To keep up to date with public art around Auckland, see

Te Oro, 98 Line Rd, Glen Innes.


Hobsonville Point.