Hemo sculpture update


14 September 2018

Construction of an iconic sculpture for Rotorua’s Hemo intersection has been delayed.

The delay is due to the complex construction required and other work commitments of the specialist company sub-contracted to bring the design to life.

The sculpture, which will become a feature of the new roundabout being constructed by the NZ Transport Agency at the city’s southern gateway, was initially to be completed by July this year but is now expected to be completed by June 2018.

Designed by the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute at Te Puia, the sculpture was inspired by the story of Te Arawa chief Ngātoroirangi.

“We have a preferred contractor to construct the sculpture and they have sub-contracted a Canadian firm because specialist engineering and construction methods required aren’t available in New Zealand,” Rotorua Lakes Council’s strategy group manager Jean-Paul Gaston says.

“Construction planning has been delayed due to previous commitments of the overseas firm. We are disappointed by the delay but we’ve had to draw a line in the sand and look at what alternative options are available and we’re working on that with Te Puia.”

The estimated cost of the project is $570,000, with Rotorua Lakes Council, Te Puia and Transport Agency all contributing to the development of the piece.

The Transport Agency has committed $200,000 in funding for the sculpture. Council committed $150,000 from its percent for art budgets and agreed to provide a $120,000 underwrite, should one be needed. This would also come from the percent for art budget.

The remainder of the funding needed will be sought from external funders or sponsors, with the assistance of Rotorua’s public arts trust.

Frequently Asked Questions


November 2015:  Council calls for expressions of interest from artists

February 2016  - 13 expressions of interest are received   

Late Feb 2016 – A shortlist of 5 is selected by an external Public Art Selection Panel and those artists are invited to develop their concepts for the sculpture

Mid-April 2016 – Te Puia selected for its concept

May 2016 – Engineers brought in to provide advice and plan for the fabrication of the 10m tall sculpture

Late 2016 - Tender process for a preferred contractor to construct the sculpture started

January 2017 – Tender process closed and contractor selected

Late August 2017 – Council considers new options to speed up construction of sculpture


Why do we need a sculpture at Hemo Road?

On specific NZ Transport Agency projects, art can be incorporated as part of the approach to Urban Design. The goal of the Hemo Road roundabout is to boost safety at a high-risk intersection, as well as provide cycle and pedestrian access at the southern Rotorua gateway. All aspects of safety were taken in to consideration when it was decided where the sculpture would be placed.

The Hemo Road roundabout project is being completed by the Transport Agency. The agency engaged with the Council on various aspects of the project, including artwork. Council has also made a financial commitment to the artwork because of its importance as a gateway to the city. The sculpture fits with Council’s aim to revitalise the city’s gateways

What does the sculpture represent?

The sculpture was inspired by the story of Te Arawa chief Ngātoroirangi, who was responsible for the safe passage of people to New Zealand.

Designed by the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute (Te Puia), the sculpture illustrates the origins of geothermal. While exploring south of Rotorua Ngātoroirangi almost perished from the cold atop Tongariro and called for his sisters Kuiwai and Haungaroa to send heat and warmth to save him. They travelled beneath sea and land in the form of fire, creating a geothermal corridor and valleys such as Whakarewarewa as they travelled and surfaced at various locations in search of him.

What’s happening with the construction of the sculpture?

Construction of the artwork has been delayed while a Canadian company sub-contracted by Council’s preferred tenderer completed existing projects on its books.  The international company, which specialises in stainless pipe rolling, asked for extensions to construct the sculpture.  As a result of the delays Council is considering alternative options given there are limited companies in the world which can construct a 10m flame-like stainless piping piece. 

What alternative options are being considered?

Te Puia has been asked to take another look at the sculpture design and see if it can be redefined and potentially widening the pool of companies which can build it.

When is the sculpture expected to be built?

Council wants the sculpture to be constructed and installed by June next year.

How much is the sculpture expected to cost?

The estimated cost is approximately $570,000.  The Transport Agency has committed $200,000 and Rotorua Lakes Council has committed $150,000 as well as committing to underwrite the project if needed. External funding and sponsorship will be sought.

How many tenders were received to construct the sculpture?

Three tenders were received. None were from Rotorua and a Hamilton-based engineering and fabrication company was selected for the work.

Who is the Hamilton-based company?

The contract is still being finalised so that information is currently commercially sensitive. The Hamilton firm needs to demonstrate its ability to deliver the project and has enlisted the services of a Canadian firm with machinery and skills in pipe rolling.   These types of services are not available in New Zealand.






Page reviewed: 18 Nov 2017 8:45pm