Huia feather archway to be installed in The Square

A site has been prepared for Palmerston North's next public sculpture on the corner of The Square looking toward the ...
JANINE RANKIN/FAIRFAX NZ

A site has been prepared for Palmerston North's next public sculpture on the corner of The Square looking toward the statue of Te Awe Awe.

The ground work is underway for Palmerston North's next public sculpture in The Square, which will be erected this week.

The Public Sculpture Trust commissioned Massey University Professor of Maori Visual Arts Bob Jahnke to create the work which is likely to be erected this week.

This comes just days after embarrassing reports into the Ghost Tower's 2014 collapse was released. That sculpture, near the Highflyers Main St intersection, was re-installed in 2015.

It blew over in strong winds, but the reports revealed the council and installers knew the tower had not been secured properly when they rushed to get it up in time for an official ceremony.

Jahnke's piece is called Nga Huruhuru Rangatira, which translates as the feathers of the chief.

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It will be a 6.4 metre-tall archway of ground stainless steel huia feathers that will frame the view of the Te Peeti Te Awe Awe statue from the Plaza corner of The Square.

The native huia bird, now extinct, was last seen in the Tararua range, and held particular significance for the region.

Sculpture trust spokesman Simon Barnett said Jahnke, was a noted local and national artist, and the trust was delighted to include his creation in the public sculpture programme.

He said it was particularly appropriate to have a Maori artist to work with sensitivity to enhance the Maori cultural and historical values of The Square.

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Jahnke said the archway would consist of three stylised huia feathers on one side, and two on the other.

It would incorporate motifs found on tribal meeting houses significant to Rangitane, with references to the importance of introduced literacy and Western knowledge.

The structure would not be shiny, but the ground stainless steel would be illuminated from below so it would catch the light in a flickering, feathery fashion.

The feathers would be 7m long, but bent into an arch, would stand 6.4m tall.

"It will be quite imposing and have a real presence."

People will walk under the arch as they follow the diagonal path into The Square.

The work had taken Jahnke more than a year to create and the design had been modified at one stage to ensure its structural integrity.

He said he and the trust and city council would be working hard to ensure the sculpture was secure and strong and did not fall down.

The work is the second-to-last the trust and Palmerston North City Council have agreed to pay for, with each party contributing $50,000 to each work.

The previous sculptures are Numbers at Coleman Mall, Returning Column on the Main St roundabout, Cityscape at the library, United Divided near the Convention Centre, Who's Afraid outside the Regent, Body Language under the civic administration building, The Giants Amongst Us on Cuba St, and the Ghost Tower.

 - Stuff

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