A 90-year-old Te Arawa Soldiers' Memorial in Rotorua has been cast in bronze to preserve it for future generations to enjoy.

"Over time the wooden carvings started to deteriorate and because of that they are now in off-site storage in the museum," said Eugene Kara, head caster at the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute.

"We've chosen to replicate them in bronze to give them a longer life – they'll last a thousand years."

The new look statue was unveiled at a dawn ceremony 92 years to the day since it was first unveiled by the then Duke of York during a Royal visit in 1927.

The monument commemorates Te Arawa soldiers who fought and died in the First World War.

The unveiling was attended by the Mayor Steve Chadwick and other local dignitaries as well as members of the RSA.

"It was great to see all the old generation here and also the young ones as well. Our current high schools' kids from Rotorua Boys High, they were here too," Kara said.

The traditional art of wood carving has long been an integral part of Māori culture but the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute is adapting to use modern technology to ensure longevity.

"We were missing two carvings and all we had to go by were photos. We worked with the University of Victoria and we collaborated with them to do some 3D scanning of the carvings so we have a digital archive and also 3D printed the two missing ones. From that stage we've taken the 3D printed pieces and taken them through the casting stage and replicated them in bronze.

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"I think it's important that we continue to look at how we can mobilise our cultural artforms in many different ways because we've got to be environmentally conscious of our footprint as well. And the resources available to us aren't the same as our ancestors."

The New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute opened its bronze foundry in 2013. Since then artists have completed a number of significant pieces with many more planned for the future.

Made with funding from