Te Waka Taumata O Horotiu

Te Waka Taumata O Horotiu, Auckland, public art

Public Art : Te Waka Taumata O Horotiu (Resting Waka)

Sculptor : © Fred Graham

Location : Te Waka Taumata O Horotiu is located on the corner of Queen Street and Swanson Street in Auckland, New Zealand.

Description : This sculpture marks the site of Auckland's original foreshore and is an historically important  site for Ngati Whatua and especially the Ngati Paoa people . Made of corten steel and stainless steel the 7m high sculpture soars high among the highrises in Auckland's CBD. The sculpture is symbolic reminder of the waka (Maori canoes) that once lined these long forgotten shores. The sculpture consists of a Taurapa (stern post) and a Tau-ihu (prow). The prow is the part of the bow, just above the waterline, which cuts through the water. The prow on this sculpture is designed like a resting bird with it's head facing towards it's tail. Towards the top of the stern post are a flock of stainless steel birds in flight

Date unveiled : The Resting Waka was unveiled in February, 2008.

Inscription :

Te Waka Taumata O Horotiu
by Fred Graham
An Auckland City Council Public Art Project
February 2008


Who are the Ngati Paoa?  : To better understand the meaning of this sculpture one must understand the importance of the location of where it has been erected. This area was once a beach where the Ngati Paoa lived.

The Ngāti Paoa were once considered the most powerful and wealthiest tribe in New Zealand. They occupied the most stratigic land holdings in Auckland, giving them a great advantage in commercial trade especially with the arrival of European settlers. However in 1821 they were forced to flee the area following the invasion by northern tribes.This was followed by a series of epidemics and land confiscations by Europeans during the 1860's. By the 1900's the tribe had been significantly impoverished.

Who are the Ngati Whatua? Ngāti Whātua is a Māori tribe which consist of 4 subtribes: Te Uri-o-Hau, Te Roroa, Te Taoū, and Ngāti Whātua-o-Ōrākei. The Ngāti Whātua occupied the site of present day Auckland (including Waitakere City).

The Ngāti Whātua's main rival were the Ngapuhi tribe who occupied land further north. In the 19th century, around 1807, the Ngapuhi pushed to gain more land closer to the main ports by attacking the Ngāti Whātua. The battle, which became known as Moremonui (seagull's feast) was the first time both tribes used muskets (Western weapons.) Interestingly the Ngapuhi were caught off guard when they paused to reload and were overrun by the Ngāti Whātua, who were then armed with hand weapons. Moremonui, in all likelihood, was the first battle of the Musket Wars.

In 1825 the Ngapuhi had their revenge when they defeated Ngāti Whātua in the battle of Te Ika a Ranganui.

In 1840, Ngāti Whātua offered land at Tamaki Makaurau to Governor William Hobson in the hope of attracting more European settlements and therefore more commercial and political opportunities for the tribe. In response to the offer Hobson moved the capital of New Zealand to the area and named it Auckland in 1941 in honor of Lord Auckland. Auckland would remain the capital until 1865 when it was moved to Wellington.

Significance of the Waka : The Waka are Maori canoes that range from small non decorated ones, used for fishing and travel, to the large decorative war canoes which can be up to 130ft (40) long. The most famous of these was the Tainui waka, a great ocean going canoe, which the Polynesians used to migrate to New Zealand over 800 years ago.The canoe was named after a baby who died at childbirth and was buried at Hawaiki (mythical land of the Polynesian people). At the child's burial site a great tree grew and it was that tree which was used to build the Tainui waka.

In Maori tradition the Tainui canoe was captained by chief Hoturoa. On the  voyage it stopped at various locations in New Zealand's North Island including Auckland and at various stops, crew members disembarked and settled the areas forming several iwi (tribes).

Te Waka Taumata O Horotiu, Auckland, public art

Te Waka Taumata O Horotiu, Auckland, public art

Te Waka Taumata O Horotiu, Auckland, public art

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