The controversial Hemo sculpture Te Ahi Tupua is finally complete, four months after it was installed.
The sculpture was lifted into place via helicopter on September 12 last year, more than three years behind schedule and more than $200,000 over budget.
The blessing took place this morning with partners and contributors.
The three remaining manaia, lighting and decorative base cover were installed over the past month.
Dr Ken Kennedy and Rawiri Waru blessed the finished sculpture with a karakia and those involved with the project spoke about its journey from conception through to installation.
Rotorua Lakes Council today said: "Since installation, a series of tests and inspections were undertaken by independent engineers and technical experts providing assurance the sculpture had been built and installed correctly according to design specifications and that the carbon fibre structure exceeded design loads by 620 per cent."
The sculpture was designed by Te Puia | NZMACI and constructed at Kilwell Fibretube in Rotorua.
Te Puia chief executive Tim Cossar said it was pleasing to see Te Ahi Tupua complete and in place to showcase the rich Māori heritage, identity and values of Rotorua.
"While it was a complicated project, with many 'first-ever' initiatives, we are very proud of the concept, which speaks to a significant Te Arawa narrative and represents the arrival of geothermal to our district.
"The sculpture also provides another opportunity for NZMACI to fulfil its Government mandate, to perpetuate, preserve and promote Māori arts and crafts – but in a contemporary way, with the design derived from whakairo rākau," he said.
Kilwell Fibretube chief executive Craig Wilson said the sculpture's creation was the result of collaboration across many organisations and with many individuals.
"We are immensely proud of our staff for the thousands of hours of work during the two-year construction period and today was an opportunity to acknowledge that work and the work of the many others that contributed to Te Ahi Tupua. From the start, this project aligned with our business' principles of continuous learning and giving back to the community."
Council operations group manager Jocelyn Mikaere said: "Today was an opportunity to celebrate and acknowledge our partners and the organisations and people who have contributed to Te Ahi Tupua. We can also reflect on what has been a groundbreaking endeavour for our community."
On September 15, Mikaere told the Rotorua Daily Post the sculpture's inner helix had taken "more manoeuvring than expected" to get in place as the tolerances were "very tight between the helices".
The inner helix was temporarily fixed in place within the outer helix to restore traffic flow on the day of installation, she said at the time.
Mikaere confirmed parts of the sculpture had been temporarily removed to finish installation of the inner helix to the base plinth, and it was expected "these tubes and the additional post-installation inner to outer tubes will be installed over the next few weeks".
In 2015, the council and Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency agreed to enter into a partnership to commission a large-scale artwork to become the centrepiece for upgrades to the intersection of State Highway 5 and 30.
In November that year, the council put out a call to artists across Aotearoa for expressions of interest to produce the artwork.
Some of the criteria for designs included ensuring the artwork would be viewable below road level by cyclists and pedestrians using the underpass, should have a height from a foundation of 7 to 10m, and would be fit for a high-profile gateway to Rotorua.
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency acting director regional relationships Steve Mutton said Te Ahi Tupua transformed the Hemo roundabout into a culturally significant space that reflects local stories.
"Public art projects like this are important because they help create gateways, make state highways more attractive, and offer a sense of place and identity."
The 12m-high 3D-printed sculpture was originally due to be installed in July 2017.