"This carved wooden gateway welcomes all people to Auckland’s Aotea Square, featuring mythological figures, symbols and even a haiku expressing Māori and Pacific culture."
This impressive sculpture provides a gateway into Aotea Square, a gathering place and stage for public events. Standing at the Queen Street entrance it transforms Aotea Square into a marae or meeting place, and the Aotea Centre beyond into a meeting house. Artist Selwyn Muru (Ngāti Kuri, Te Aupōuri) chose macrocarpa wood for the archway because of its mauri (life force) and warmth, in contrast to the urban environment of steel, glass and stone. He carved each piece with a chainsaw and chisel.
To achieve the green colour on the forms near the top of the archway he treated pieces of weathered copper with vinegar. Some of the copper came from the top of the old Waitangi wharf piles, and by using it Muru acknowledges Tangaroa (god of the sea and fish) and his birthplace of Northland. The archway shows another four figures, also representing Māori atua (gods); Tamanuiterā (god of the sun), Tangaroa (god of the sea and fish), Tāne-mahuta (god of the forests and birds) and Tāwhiri-mātea (god of the winds, clouds, rain, hail, snow and storms). Representing heavenly bodies on the far left is Whetu me te Mārama (the stars and crescent moon). The body of the archway also features numerous symbols, highlighting Pacific and contemporary themes.
A haiku by renowned Māori poet Hone Tuwhare is inscribed into the work, with a te reo Māori translation by Muru. The haiku is a tribute to Tuwhare, Muru's friend and fellow artist, and a reference to the Horotiu Stream that originally ran down the valley that became Queen Street.
Stop your snivelling creek bed,
Come rain, hail and floodwater,
Kaati te whenguwhenguake i raro na e te awa,
Haere mai e te ua, e te whatu, e te waipuke,
Katakatamai ano, ano ra.
Aotea Square, facing Queen Street, Auckland Central