Hamilton's 150-year anniversary gift fit for a king

Bronze artwork of King Tawhiao to be gifted to city

ELTON SMALLMAN
Last updated 05:00 11/08/2014
King Tawhiao art
NICK REED/ Fairfax NZ

BIRTHDAY GIFT: Washington based artist Gary Schofield has gifted a bronze sculpture of the second Maori King to Hamilton.

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The artist who made a bronze bust of the second Maori king has left it in the care of the current leader of the Kingitanga movement so they can both give it to the city for 150-year anniversary commemorations.

Gary Schofield had the bronze artwork of King Tawhiao on display in his Dinsdale family home in Hamilton for nearly three decades and said it was right to include the Maori King Tuheitia in his plans to give it to the city.

"The proposal is for me to donate the bronze to the king and the king to donate it back to the city of Hamilton and thereby to all New Zealanders," said Schofield.

Schofield, a well-known painter and sculptor around the globe, now lives in the United States and was back in New Zealand to visit his mother at her Dinsdale home.

"In effect, the king representing Kingitanga and I, a Pakeha, would be symbolically strengthening our county's rich heritage in perpetuity," he said.

Schofield and Hamilton's Deputy Mayor Gordon Chesterman attended a hui with King Tuheitia and members of the iwi at Ngaruawahia and said it was a powerful occasion.

The bronze bust of Tawhiao's face with his carved ta moko was unveiled to a silent audience and Schofield was told there was nothing like it in their collection of art.

Artists and experts from within the iwi were expected to study the ta moko which were unique to each person.

Schofield said it was a difficult process to take the image of Tawhiao's ta moko from a painted picture and represent it in a 3-dimension sculpture and it took several years to get it right.

Traditional ta moko were carved into the face and he studied moko mokai (preserved heads) to get a true appreciation of the process.

"It was difficult doing it but I had help with the actual reference of the preserved heads themselves," he said.

He started working with clay but the lines of the ta moko crumbled so he resorted to wax.

"With wax I can get the finest, finest details and each line has to be perfect and shaped with the face and shaped with the line next to it," he said. "This is unique work. I didn't make another copy and I don't think I could do it again because it worked so well. I think it is the best thing that I've ever done." 

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- Waikato Times

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