The installation of the Hemo Gorge roundabout sculpture is facing further delays and is now expected to be installed in February, 19 months after its initial completion date.

The 12m sculpture is the final piece of the puzzle in completing the Hemo Gorge roundabout.

The $500,000 sculpture was designed by Stacy Gordine, head of the National Stone and Bone Carving School at Te Puia, and is being 3D printed by Kilwell Fibretube.

When first announced, the sculpture was intended to be installed by July 2017.


The first delay came after it was discovered only a limited number of companies in the world were capable of constructing the complex design.

An artist's impression of the sculpture at the new Hemo Gorge roundabout. Image / Rotorua Lakes Council
An artist's impression of the sculpture at the new Hemo Gorge roundabout. Image / Rotorua Lakes Council

The new installation date was set for June this year but that was pushed back after changes had to be made to the laminate being used.

The sculpture installation is now expected to be finished around February.

Kilwell chief executive Craig Wilson said "testing" was the reason for the delay.

"The printing and fabrication of the sculpture elements is going well, however the testing of each of the elements is taking longer than expected.

"The scale of this project is an entirely new concept globally so it is difficult to pinpoint how long certain parts of the process will take. The team involved also have to factor in final assembly, painting and transportation to the site."

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The delay is not related to a crash involving a logging truck earlier in the year.

At the Operations and Monitoring Committee meeting last week Weston said costs for the sculpture were "in check" and the project was progressing well.

"But logistics are proving slightly more difficult in terms of timing, so for safety we're really saying probably February."

The sculpture is being printed by 10 printers at Kilwell's Rotorua factory and will take almost 16,500 hours to create.

It tells the story of two supernatural deities, Te Pupu (heat) and Te Hoata (fire), and their search for Ngātoroirangi, the great chief and priest of the Te Arawa waka.