A Māori Figure in a Kaitaka Cloak
"This dignified bronze rangatira has a quiet power and strength, welcoming people into the city."
A simple yet imposing bronze statue of a Māori chief. Its form allows viewers to focus on the quiet power and strength of the figure. Artist, Molly Macalister, made the sculpture to welcome people arriving by boat at the downtown docks. It was first located, not far away, in front of the Britomart Transport Centre, where it complemented the neoclassical front of the building. It now stands on Quay Street, across from the Ferry Building.
In 1964, Auckland City Council invited Macalister to create a bronze figure. They wanted "a Māori figure in a traditional form". Macalister was the first woman in Aotearoa/New Zealand to receive a public art commission. Importantly, she also worked with local iwi Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei to complete the sculpture.
Macalister made and revised a series of sketches and small models of the figure before beginning work on the full-size sculpture. Her first sketches show a more combative warrior. The final sculpture revealed a dignified chief wearing a kaitaka, a precious flax cloak with an ornamental tāniko border. The chief holds a mere, a simple short flat weapon, lowered at his side as a sign of peace.
There was debate in the media. Some city councillors thought the statue should stick to more traditional ideas of a Māori warrior. The decision was made to continue with Macalister's figure and the final work was unveiled in July 1967.
Te Komititanga, Lower Queen Street, Auckland