Art & creativity  |  2 Oct 2019

A 16-metre tall Pasifika sculpture is being installed in Rauora Park this week, becoming the newest public artwork to light up the central city.

VAKA ‘A HINA, by Tongan artist and architect Sēmisi Fetokai Potauaine, was commissioned by SCAPE Public Art and its installation marks the opening of this year’s SCAPE Season.

It will be the first time a Pasifika artwork of this scale has been seen in New Zealand.

The installation process began on Monday when the sculpture was erected on to a massive foundation containing the equivalent of 40 baths full of concrete and two tonnes on reinforcement.

The sculpture can be lit in different colours at night to suit different occasions and testing will soon be carried out its eight lighting programmes so they can be tailored for specific events.

SCAPE Public Art Director Deborah McCormick says the sculpture combines Pasifika culture with striking geometry.

“It’s not the first time SCAPE has worked with the Pasifika community but, given the scale of this sculpture, it really is next level – it’s a big gesture and a real milestone for this community.”

She says it will be a visual cue of the city’s cultural diversity and a new landmark for Christchurch.

Creative New Zealand was a key partner in the project, along with Christchurch City Council, Ōtakaro Ltd, Deloitte, Anderson Lloyd and BECA.

RCP has managed the project and engineering design firm GHD turned Potauaine’s design into reality, working closely with sponsor John Jones Steel who made the structure.

Potauaine, who is based in Auckland but has lived and worked in Christchurch in the past, is in Christchurch to oversee installation of the sculpture, which joins 14 other legacy (permanent) artworks produced by SCAPE Public Art.

He works as a multi-media artist across a number of disciplines, including architecture, sculpture, tattooing, and painting.

VAKA ‘A HINA is based on ancient Tongan and Pacific folklore about a goddess, Hina, who lives in outer space but travels back and forth to earth. Vaka‘a Hina is the vaka or canoe she uses to make that journey.