Art & creativity  |  02 Apr 2019

A 16-metre tall sculpture proposed for central Christchurch would be a symbol of unity, say its creators.

Plans for VAKA ‘A HINA, designed by Tongan artist and architect Sēmisi Fetokai Potauaine, have been unveiled by SCAPE Public Art.

A planned 16 metre tall public artwork for Rauora Park called VAKA 'A HINA has b

Plans for a 16 metre tall public artwork proposed for Rauora Park have been unveiled by SCAPE Public Art.

SCAPE commissioned the sculpture and hopes to gift it to the Christchurch City Council for a permanent site in Rauora Park, a public space that runs between Armagh and Lichfield Streets.

However, the Council is yet to make a decision on whether to accept the artwork. 

SCAPE Public Art Executive Director Deborah McCormick says VAKA 'A' HINA would act as a beacon and wayfinder and provide another opportunity to connect the community.

Its combination of striking geometry and Pacific Island cultural significance would embody "the uniqueness of all the different people who make up our community", she says.

It would join 14 other legacy (permanent) artworks produced by SCAPE Public Art for Christchurch.

The work has a value of $275,000 including installation costs.

SCAPE has worked in partnership with the Council, Ōtākaro Ltd, local company John Jones Steel, GHD and Leighs Construction on plans for the new artwork which would be made from Corten steel sheets. A public fundraising campaign is also underway.

The sculpture could be lit in different colours at night to suit different occasions.

Potauaine is based in Auckland but has lived and worked in Christchurch. 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 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. "With the recent tragedy in the city, I do hope the presence of VAKA 'A HINA as a wayfinder offers relief to those who have been stricken and provides connection to those who have been separated."

The Social, Community Development and Housing Committee will on Wednesday consider a staff report recommending the artwork be permanently installed on Council land and maintained by the Council. If the Committee accepts the staff recommendation it would still need to be formally approved by the Council. 

SCAPE Public Art has offered to cover the cost of maintenance for the first 12 months but future maintenance costs for VAKA ‘A HINA, estimated at $1500 per year, have been included for consideration in the draft 2019/2020 Annual Plan.