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Te Waka Taumata o Horotiu (Resting Waka) by Fred Graham
Fred Graham

Te Waka Taumata o Horotiu (Resting Waka)

"Towering above passing pedestrians, this taurapa marks the original foreshore and landing place of Ngāti Whātua and Ngāti Paoa waka."

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Stretching to seven metres high, this impressive artwork stands between two buildings in Auckland's inner city. Depicting the taurapa (stern-post) and tauihu (prow) of a large ancestral waka (canoe), Te Waka Taumata o Horotiu / Resting Waka was commissioned by Auckland City Council with the Queen Street upgrade of 2008. Fred Graham's sculpture marks the site of the area’s original foreshore and the former landing place of waka belonging to the Ngāti Whātua and Ngāti Paoa people (of which the Tainui waka is the most well-known). This site was once a beach on which the Ngāti Paoa people kept their waka, and is now the bustling commercial corner of Queen and Swanson Streets.

Encircling the top of the sculpture is a flock of sculpted stainless-steel sea birds that nod to the resource-rich coasts of Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland. The tauihu, which is the lower part of the sculpture, is shaped like a resting bird that has found a safe place to settle and tucked in its beak so that it is pointing back towards its tail.

In English, waka taumata translates as resting canoe, and the name Horotiu refers to the ancient stream that runs beneath Queen Street. Graham’s sculpture was constructed in weathered steel, so that the rusting brown colour would give the impression that the taurapa had been anchored there for centuries, with the city growing up around it.


Corner Queen and Swanson Streets, Auckland Central, diagonally opposite the other Fred Graham sculpture 'Kaitiaki II'

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