Work to resume on vandalized Kerikeri artwork
Kasey Powder Coatings foreman Dony Broughton (left) and Rheno Broughton inspect the manu sculpture which will crown a climate change themed sculpture at the Kerikeri roundabout. Photo / provided
Work is due to resume this week on a Kerikeri sculpture that had to be dismantled before it was even finished due to vandalism.
Te Haa o Te Ao (The Breath of the World) was taking shape at the intersection of Kerikeri Rd and State Highway 10 last month when vandals climbed the scaffolding, removed 63 of its 120 cables and damaged a sculpture of three-headed bird crowning the 15 m high column.
The attack on the sculpture came just hours after a post on a Kerikeri community Facebook page sparked a frenzy of comments.
Some of the criticisms were based on misinformation such as claims that the artwork is a taxpayer-funded consultancy project. It was actually commissioned by the local hapū Ngāti Rēhia and paid for by the government’s Provincial Growth Fund.
The cast aluminum bird sculpture, by artist Tom Hei Hei, of Te Tii, had to be lifted by crane and then sent back to Auckland to be powder coated a second time.
The manu (birds) have since been repaired and covered, while an Ōpua rigging company has made replacement cables.
The birds were due to return to their perch atop the sculpture on Friday, but wet weather prevented the use of the crane.
Another attempt will be made as soon as the soil is dry enough.
Kerikeri artist Chris Booth, who is constructing the rest of the sculpture, said the upper scaffolding would be removed once the manu was installed and the cables replaced.
Then work could begin to attach rocks to each of the 120 cables.
Most of the boulders, which weighed 250-300kg each, came from the Kerikeri River when the Northland Regional Council carried out flood prevention work several years ago.
Others came from a Taumaranui quarry after a blessing from Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Booth said.
The sculpture and the varying tension of the cables supporting the rocks will symbolize local efforts to combat climate change.
The heads of the birds are a kahu (hawk) watching visitors as they arrive at Kerikeri via SH10, a tūī facing the Puketi forest, and a kawau (shag) looking out to sea.
The $550,000 grant for the sculpture was part of an $8 million PGF package for Kerikeri-Waipapa projects announced by former Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones in 2020.
The attack prompted Jones to hit on the “idiots who vandalized the statue” and the “Facebook doodlers” who instigated them.
It was part of an “insidious level of criminality” affecting Kerikeri, he said.
No one has been charged in connection with the attack on the Kerikeri sculpture or the historic Russell Pole two months earlier. The only clue to who was behind the Russell incident was graffiti referring to a “new world order” conspiracy theory.