Young people from all around Taranaki are being encouraged to get creative and design a sculpture for their school, with two $10,000 prizes to be won in a competition.

Sculptor Tai Meuli, who is currently hosting the Oro Haaruru sculpture symposium on his Midhirst property, says he has written to every primary and intermediate school in Taranaki, inviting them to tell their pupils about the competition.

"We couldn't leave any school out. The whole thing about art is it includes everyone."

The competition, Battle of the Schools which runs from now until December 20, asks for pupils, aged five to 13 to conceive and draw a design for a sculpture for their school.


Judging of all entries will take place over the Christmas period, with the winning two entries selected and contacted before the start of the first school term next year.

Then, says Tai, the fun really starts.

"The two winning designs will be brought to life, off the paper and into the stone, by myself. I will do the work on the school grounds ideally, so the young people can see the art work being brought to life and even be part of the process at times, helping with polishing, with smoothing the lines and with working with the stone."

Tai says he plans to work with Taranaki Andesite stone because it is durable in Taranaki weather and is a locally sourced stone.

Tai says once turned into a sculpture the two winning designs will have a value of $10,000 each.

He is already working on a sculpture of the same value to be gifted to Midhirst School, where he was once a pupil.

The competition is about bringing young people into the world of art, and showing them there is more to art than just paint or pencil, he says.

"You can't learn this stuff at university. The only way to learn about sculpting is by coming to a symposium like the one we have running at the moment, and talking to the artists, asking questions and learning."


He says he encourages anyone thinking of entering the competition to come out to the symposium and have a look at the work on display.

"Ask questions, look around and think. Then think about your school, the values, what it represents, and then find a way to represent that in your design."

He wants the sculptures to represent the schools well, he says.

"As the sculptures will be ever-lasting on the school grounds. They will be there for the future generations to come."

Entries can be by individual pupils or a collaborative effort he says.

Tai's advice for any budding sculptors is simple.

"Think about these things — form, shadow, simplicity, line and finally, the execution — how will it be carried out."

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