Work is expected to resume this week on a Kerikeri sculpture which had to be dismantled even before it was finished due to vandalism.
Te Haa o Te Ao (The Breath of The World) was taking shape at the intersection of Kerikeri Rd and State Highway 10 last month when vandals climbed the scaffolding, removed 63 of its 120 cables, and damaged a three-headed bird sculpture crowning the 15m-high column.
The attack on the sculpture occurred just hours after a post on a Kerikeri community Facebook page sparked a frenzy of comments.
Some of the criticism was based on misinformation such as claims that the artwork is a ratepayer-funded council project. It was in fact commissioned by local hapū Ngāti Rēhia and paid for by the Government's Provincial Growth Fund.
The cast aluminium bird sculpture, by artist Tom Hei Hei, of Te Tii, had to be lifted off by crane then returned to Auckland to be powder-coated for a second time.
The manu (birds) have since been repaired and recoated, while an Ōpua rigging firm has made replacement cables.
The birds were to have returned to their roost on top of the sculpture on Friday but wet weather meant the crane could not be used.
Another attempt will be made as soon as the ground dries out sufficiently.
Kerikeri artist Chris Booth, who is building the rest of the sculpture, said the upper scaffolding would be removed once the manu were installed and the cables replaced.
Then work could begin on attaching boulders to each of the 120 cables.
Most of the boulders, which weighed 250-300kg each, had been sourced from Kerikeri River when the Northland Regional Council carried out flood prevention work several years ago.
Others came from a quarry in Taumaranui after a blessing by Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Booth said.
The sculpture, and variable tension in the cables supporting the boulders, will symbolise local efforts to combat climate change.
The birds' heads are a kahu (hawk) watching visitors as they arrive in Kerikeri via SH10, a tūī facing Puketi Forest, and a kawau (shag) looking towards the sea.
The $550,000 grant for the sculpture was part of an $8 million PGF package for Kerikeri-Waipapa projects announced by former Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones in 2020.
The attack prompted Jones to hit out at the "dorks who vandalised the statue" and the "Facebook scribblers" who incited them.
It was part of an "insidious level of criminality" affecting Kerikeri, he said.
No one has been charged over the attack on the Kerikeri sculpture or on the historic flagpole at Russell two months earlier. The only clue as to who was behind the Russell incident was graffiti referring to a conspiracy theory about a "new world order".