Hokitika's Rory McDougall was lost for words when he was awarded the top prize at the 2018 Rotorua Sculpture Symposium closing ceremony.
Located outside The Arts Village, 16 sculptors from around the country spent 10 days carving and sculpting pieces relating to the theme Ngā Wai o Rotorua – The Waters of Rotorua.
The sculptors chose the material they carved from including Oamaru stone, Taranaki andesite or macrocarpa.
The symposium opened last Friday and carvers worked through until today when tools were laid down and judging began for the Supreme Award.
As the winner, McDougall, receives $10,000 prize money and his sculpture will become a permanent part of the Rotorua Sulphur Lake Sculpture Trail.
His work, entitled Waters of Rotorua depicts a map of the Rotorua region.
Made from Taranaki andesite stone, the grooves and concentric rings represent the 13 main bodies of water alongside the rivers and hills of the Rotorua area.
People may also associate the sculpture with water ripples, mud pools and topographical maps.
McDougall said at yesterday's presentation he had not processed the win yet and he normally came second when involved in competitions.
"It's a bit of a shock."
He said this was his third time taking part in the Rotorua Sculpture Symposium and had enjoyed meeting up with old friends and making new ones.
He had enjoyed the commute in each day from Rotoma where he was staying too.
Master carver Clive Fugall, artist Eugene Kara and sculptor Joe Kemp had the tough job of judging the artworks.
This is the third biennial Rotorua Sculpture Symposium and organiser Rotorua Lakes Council public art advisor Marc Spijkerbosch believes it gets better each year.
He said they knew the rain was coming and the sculptors had worked like Trojans all week.
"It doesn't feel like a competition, it feels like a reunion more than anything else."
He said they would also be getting in contact with another three artists and asking if their pieces could be bought for Sulphur Point.
Over the next week, the 16 new artworks will be placed around the Sulphur Lake Sculpture Trail, alongside five permanent sculptures from previous symposia, and a new trail will be ready for the public to explore.
"We've got some of the country's leading talent right here in our city, so aren't we lucky?"
Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick announced the winning sculptor.
She said it was lovely to have these works washed by rain as it was appropriate for the symposium's theme.
"The calibre of entrants this year has raised the bar again. I love the mixing of mediums that is emerging more and more.
"It has been great to have the symposium take place in the centre of the arts precinct which has allowed me to pop down and watch the sculptures evolve over the week."
For the first time, a new People's Choice award will be open for public voting from December 7 until February 17.
Visit the trail in Government Gardens and then head to the Creative Rotorua Facebook page to vote for your favourite and be in the draw to win a $100 prezzy card.
The winning People's Choice artist will receive $500 Bunnings voucher which will be announced at the end of the voting period on February 18.
For more information on the 2018 Rotorua Sculpture Symposium and the Sulphur Lake Sculpture Trail go to www.creativerotorua.org.nz.