Whale Song sculpture plan 'world class'

SEA TO SKY: An artist's impression of the proposed Kapiti sculpture.
SEA TO SKY: An artist's impression of the proposed Kapiti sculpture.

Plans for a whale sculpture on the Kapiti Coast have received enthusiastic support from business and tourism leaders.

Artist Mike Fuller and design consultant Gavin Bradley are planning New Zealand's largest sculpture – seven life-sized humpback whales, supported by 20m poles above a simulated tidal landscape. The whales would sing, using wind-powered harps, and spout water.

The sculpture, to be made of recycled alloy coated in bronze, would cost about $3.5 million to construct and was expected to take about two years to complete.

Three potential sites were being investigated – in Paekakariki, Paraparaumu and on the banks of Otaki River.

"We would like to see it on the Kapiti Coast, with a view of the ocean and Kapiti Island – somewhere everyone is happy for it to be," Mr Bradley said.

Paraparaumu Airport owner Sir Noel Robinson, who plans a $430m airport upgrade and nearby business park, supported the plan.

"It will provide a wonderful, world-class attraction for the coast, it would be one of the great sculptures of the world."

Kapiti Mayor Jenny Rowan was keen to help raise $70,000 for a feasibility study and business plan.

"The reaction from local and national politicians, tourism industry experts and some key business operators is overwhelmingly enthusiastic."

Fuller said Kapiti and Horowhenua schools could be involved from the start. "Schools can collect research on all aspects of whales as well as sustainable energy, sculpture and tourism." He hoped fibreglass moulds used for casting could be used to provide a "walk-in whale" in which the organs and bone structure would be visible.

The project, which is not expected to use ratepayers' or taxpayers' money, had the potential to boost flagging local tourism and overnight stays.

Kapiti Chamber of Commerce chairman Mark Ternent said initial feedback from businesspeople was mixed, but more people supported the project when they realised it would not be funded by rates.

The Dominion Post