A driftwood sculpture of a large bullock was officially unveiled in Whangamomona last week.

The artwork, by Whanganui artist Jack Marsden-Mayer, was commissioned by the Whangamomona Republic committee this year to commemorate 30 years of the Republic's existence.

Once Jack had created the bullock, Whangamomona local Walter Pease added yokes, chains and logs to give the artwork a sense of time and place.

The completed piece represents the history of the area, the pioneers who broke in the land for farming, building railways, stores, hotels, homes and roads. Throughout hard times, including the great depression, the flu epidemic and two World Wars the pioneers and their animals carved their place into the land.

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Back then, bullocks and horses were used for all sorts of tasks, transporting items to and from the saw mills, pulling logs from the forest and some bullocks even pulled stage coaches at times.

The log the bullock is towing was pulled from the Pohokora river and is believed to have been felled a century ago.

The log being towed by the bullock is a piece of history in itself.
The log being towed by the bullock is a piece of history in itself.

A competition was held asking locals to come up with a name for the bullock, with more than 20 entries received to be judged by the republic's president and first lady, John and Pat Herlihy.

The winning name was Athol, suggested by Ray and Joyce Gower.

Ray and Joyce Gower won the competition to name the bullock, choosing the name Athol.
Ray and Joyce Gower won the competition to name the bullock, choosing the name Athol.

The name Athol is after Athol Meredith who owned a saw mill in New Zealand in the early 1900s. His team of bullocks roamed the Whangamomona area with the McCluggage Brothers bullock team.

Stratford District Mayor Neil Volzke pictured with the artist, Jack Marsden-Mayer.
Stratford District Mayor Neil Volzke pictured with the artist, Jack Marsden-Mayer.

Amanda Harris, a member of the Whangamomona Republic committee, says the sculpture was made possible thanks to the support of members of the community, NZTA, the TSB Community Trust, the Taranaki Electricity Trust, Stratford District Council and the artist himself.

Stratford Mayor Neil Volzke says he was delighted to be invited to be part of the unveiling.

"The sculpture itself is absolutely incredible. There is a huge level of skill in the creation of this lifelike piece of art."

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