Birds to lift Foxton's spirits

23:14, Jul 18 2014

Four godwits have landed in Foxton but these ones have no plans to take the species' annual migration to Alaska.

A sculpture was blessed on State Highway 1 at the town's southern end this week, featuring four birds swooping into the main street.

The brainchild of former Foxton Community Board chairman Neville Gimblett, the $45,000 sculpture, in which the birds each have a 2-metre wingspan, was funded by the Horowhenua District Council.

"The really great thing is to see what it actually means to the community," Gimblett said.

"I guess when I first had the idea, it was about what was unique to Foxton and what will help put us on the map."

The sculpture was constructed by The Old Foundry in Levin, which created each piece of the birds, including individual feathers, out of steel before welding the creatures together.


Owner Cate Madison said the work was best viewed from a distance and was aimed at enticing travellers through Foxton to turn off SH1.

A colony of godwits lives at the wetlands at Foxton Beach over the summer months.

They are one of about 95 species of bird that can be found in the Manawatu Estuary. Each year they fly to Alaska, where they are now, for the New Zealand winter.

The sculptures, while somewhat larger than a real godwit, were designed to be realistic.

Madison travelled to Canterbury Museum to view and photograph godwit specimens.

She said the sculpture birds weighed between 70 and 100 kilograms and were created over about 14 weeks.

The poles that lift them more than 4m off the ground represented the wharves that once lined the Manawatu River at Foxton, she said.

Landscaping was planned for the area below the sculptures, with flax, another aspect in Foxton's history, to feature prominently.

Gimblett said the erection of the sculpture was the latest in a series of positive steps for the town, such as the opening of its medical centre and moves to clean up the Manawatu River Loop.

"It's as if after years of being pushed down, Foxton is lifting itself up," he said.

Manawatu Standard