10 November 2016
Two carved panels which tell the story of Te Arawa waka captain Tamatekapua and his whanau and ancestors have found a new home at Rotorua Airport.
The colourful carvings were removed from their former location in the City Focus as part of the refresh of the inner city and needed a new home that would complement their significance to Rotorua.
The two panels are visible from Te Ngae Road.
After consultation with the artists who created them, Manahi Skerrett and Erin Tioke, and with local iwi, it was decided to relocate them to the airport. The carvings now create a waharoa (gateway) for people both arriving at and departing from Rotorua.
Matata-based artist Erin Tioke says he is very pleased the carvings are being displayed again.
“We came for a drive to Rotorua before the panels were installed and saw where the carvings were going to go. It’s awesome that they are right next to the main road where everyone will see them.”
Rotorua Airport chief executive Nicole Brewer says the airport welcomed the opportunity to have the sculptures on site.
“These sculptures are an iconic piece of artwork for the Rotorua community and the stories that these carvings depict directly relate to the airport’s corner of the lake with Mokoia Island in our sights.
“We are a community airport so it’s only fitting that these sculptures are erected on-site [at the airport].”
The carvings were installed when the City Focus was constructed in 1994 but were taken down as a part of the Inner City Revitalisation work to upgrade the inner city.
The panels represent the ancestors and descendants of Tamatekapua.
One panel (depicted at left) tells the stories of Tamatekapua’s grandson Ihenga and his discovery of Mokoia Island and Mount Ngongotaha.
The other panel (depicted at right) represents the lineage of Tamatekapua and the journey taken by his people from Hawaiki.
Meanwhile, the carvings of Hinemoa and Tutanekai which stood adjacent to the Tamatekapua panels, facing out to Mokoia Island, have been undergoing restoration work and will be returned to the heart of the city when finished.