Te Kōranga, Tuna Mau, Te Tō Pā

Victoria Park and Wynyard Quarter

Victoria Park, opened in 1905, is a large park and sports ground. It is on land reclaimed from Waiatarau / Freemans Bay with the sea now one kilometer to the north.

Iwi (Māori tribal groups) used this place extensively as a fish-drying and processing area. Fish that had been caught in the harbour and at Tuna Mau awa (Trapped Eels Stream) were hung on kōranga (scaffolds) to dry, a common method of preserving kai (food).

Tuna Mau Stream ran from Rimutahi / Ponsonby to Victoria Park and was one of several which emptied into Waiatarau Bay. The stream’s name gives an idea of the scale of food preparation that went on here. The site provided a rich resource for early Māori who would spend months here before moving south as the seasons changed.

Nearby Wynyard Quarter is also on reclaimed land. It is now a mixed-use residential and commercial area known for its entertainment and hospitality but the fishing and marine industries remain.

Prior to reclamation, Māori called the bay Waiwhakaata (mirror waters) and Waikōkota (cockle waters). Te Tō Pā was a headland pā (fortified village).

Lawrence Makoare (Ngāti Whātua)
‘Ka Puta Te Korero’ The story unfolds, 2019
Photo by Marlaina Key
Park Hyatt, Auckland, 99 Halsey Street

This pou tells the story of the naming of Te-Rangi-i-totongiate-ihu-o Tama-te-kapua (the day Tama-te-kapua’s nose bled), now known as Rangitoto Island. On arrival from Hawaiki, a battle of revenge ensued between Tamate-kapua captain of Te Arawa waka and Hoturoa, captain of Tainui waka.

The bottom figure represents Tama-te-kapua, standing on a Te Arawa wheku (carved face). Above him is Whakaotirangi, standing on a Tūwharetoa koruru (carved spiral) holding a kūmara. Her husband Ruaeo stands on a Ngāti Whātua wheku above her holding a pūtōrino (flute). The uppermost figure is Hoturoa, holding the god stick of Ngātoro-i-rangi, tohunga and master navigator of Tainui waka.

Lyonel Grant (Ngāti Pīkiao, Ngāti Rangiwewehi, Te Arawa)
Tāmaki Herenga Waka, 2020
Photo by Michelle Ardern
Park Hyatt, Auckland, 99 Halsey Street

The name of this carving, Tāmaki Herenga Waka, is drawn from a local whakataukī (proverb) which describes Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland) as the resting place of many waka (Māori canoes) and is a reference to the layers of tribal associations with Tāmaki Makaurau. It expresses that Auckland City is a safe haven for all people to commune as one.

The direct translation is “safe place to park your boat”. The carving in waka (Māori canoe) form reflects the themes of safe arrival, whakawhanaungatanga (welcome and hospitality) and the weaving of culture to enable human connections.

Peata Larkin (Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Tuhourangi)
The Light Box, 2020
Photo by Michelle Ardern
Park Hyatt, Auckland, 99 Halsey Street

This giant scale, 11-meter wide and 5.5-meter tall, artwork uses distinctive geometric Māori patterns that have been woven, painted, and lit with LED illumination to symbolize protection, strength and the pathway to the sea.

This stunning work is made of several layers of acrylic gauze painted on both sides with the gauze pushed through the layers, similar to the traditional Māori tukutuku weaving methodology.

Tukutuku is a decorative woven latticework, usually of flax woven in the form of panels that are most commonly used between the carved pou (posts) of communal buildings such as a wharenui (Māori meeting house).

Michael Parekowhai (Ngā Ariki Rotoawe, Ngāti Whakarongo)
Achy Breaky Heart, 2013
Photo by Marlaina Key
SB North Wharf, 12 Jellicoe Street

This wall of giant-size, bright stacked Cuisenaire-like rods is titled Achy Breaky Heart. It speaks directly to the heartfelt loss of Te Reo (language) Māori and the hope for language regeneration.

The use of Cuisinaire Rods is significant symbolism and an homage to the unique Māori language revitalisation movement and the Te Ataarangi teaching style. Te Atārangi is known for the use of the rods as a learning tool. Established over 35 years ago, Te Atārangi has supported more than 50,000 people to speak Te Reo Māori (the Māori language).

Cuisenaire Rods were developed in the 1950s for maths education and each colour has a mathematical unit connected to it. The white rod is one, the red rod is two, and the orange rod is ten. The work’s title is also a nod to Piet Mondrian’s 1942/43 painting Broadway Boogie Woogie, and to the 1990s pop song.

Robert Jahnke (Ngāi Tahārora, Te Whānau-a-Iri-te-kura, Te Whānau-a-Rakairo o Ngāti Porou)
Pou Whakamaharatanga mō Māui Tikitiki-a-Taranga, 2016
Photo by Michelle Ardern
ASB Waterfront Theatre Courtyard, 138 Halsey Street

Robert Jahnke is a renowned New Zealand artist whose works have a political edge that highlight important issues for the Māori people.

Pou Whakamaharatanga mō Māui Tikitiki-a-Taranga (commemoration of Māui/a demi-god) is a 6.4-meter tall carved wooden pou (post). Māui features heavily in Māori narratives and Jahnke’s work represents three key stories involving him. The three figures crowning the pou represent Māui slowing the sun, Māui fishing up the North Island and Māui acquiring fire from Mahuika, the goddess of fire.

The sculpture serves as a focal point for pōhiri (ceremonial welcomes) and other official events held at the theatre.

Hana Maihi (Ngāti Whātua) and Delani Brown (Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Raukawa) with LandLAB, Landscape Architects
Daldy Street Play Structure, 2014
Photo by Marlaina Key
Corner Daldy & Madden Street, Wynyard Quarter

This play structure was a collaboration between Waterfront Auckland and Ngāti Whātua o Ōrakei (an Auckland tribal group), and it incorporates Māori storytelling. Ngāti Whātua o Ōrakei commissioned the artists, Hana Maihi and Delani Brown.

LandLAB modelled the structure’s architecture on the form of a hīnaki (eel trap). Its circular arrangement, inner entry tube and netting design all replicate the forms of sticks, flax netting and cordage elements used in the traditional Māori traps.

Symbols for water and whakataukī (proverbs) relating to water complement the play structure. Stories about the harvest and maramataka (lunar cycle) are used in the carved timber pou (posts) which feature pāua (abalone) shell inlay.

Lisa Reihana (Ngāti Hine, Ngāpuhi, Ngāi Tū) with Megan Wraight, Wraight + Associates Landscape Architects
Tiramarama Way, 2018
Photo by Michelle Ardern
Off Madden Street, Wynyard Quarter

Tiramarama means to glimmer and light the way. Mātauranga Māori (traditional knowledge) and kaitiakitanga (guardianship) values are embedded in the unique design of this laneway. Constellations of glistening stars specific to Māori astronomy, Te Puanga (Rigel in Orion) and Matariki (the Pleiades) are expressed in the stunning suspended lighting.

Puanga appearing in the night sky heralds the start of winter. It is said to be one of the parents of puawānanga (native plant/Clematis). Puawānanga is planted adjacent to the lane and flowers in spring. When Puanga and Matariki light the way, it is time to wānanga (gather and learn), whanaungatanga (be with others) to restore faith and hope for the future, share kai (food) and celebrate.

Panuku Development Auckland partnered with Downer New Zealand to build the lane.

Graham Tipene (Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei) with LandLAB, Landscape Architects
Te Mata Topaki, 2020
Photo by Petra Leary
Viaduct Harbour, off Halsey Street

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei artist Tipene was engaged to join LandLAB on the creative journey which saw this structure evolve from a simple wharf extension into a dramatic sculptural form, representing a taurapa (the stern of a waka) lying on its side.

The new sculptural pier-like installation, completed in October 2020, extends 30 metres out from Waitematā Plaza promenade into the Viaduct Harbour water space. Commissioned privately by Viaduct Harbour Holdings, the structure is designed to enhance the public’s connection to the water itself, with its name, Te Mata Topaki — meaning ‘to hover over the headland’ — a clue as to the experience it sets out to create.

Pātiki Paving Pattern, 1999
Photo by Petra Leary
Viaduct Harbour, off Halsey Street

The Viaduct Harbour in downtown Auckland was redeveloped for the America’s Cup in 2000. A number of elements and symbols with cultural significance to Ngāti Whātua Ōrakei were included in the design, ensuring the physical environment reflects the presence, status and stories of tangata whenua (local indigenous people).

The use of the pātiki (flounder) pattern can be seen in the paving design which symbolises a local delicacy found in the Waitematā Harbour and the values of manaakitanga (hospitality). A flounder is a diamond shaped flat fish that was an important food source for early iwi (tribes). The diamond patterning symbolises plentiful times and progression in a forward movement, as the pātiki travels in a forward direction only.

(Image, aerial view).

Puhi Thompson (Ngāti Paoa)
Ngāti Paoa Seating, 2017
Photo by Marlaina Key
Edge of Victoria Park, Fanshawe Street

This seat recognises the cultural footprint of the Ngāti Paoa people drawing on the themes of mahinga kai (food gathering).

The Waitematā Harbour is significant to Ngāti Paoa for fishing and travel. They occupied land on both sides of the isthmus with pā (fortified villages) at Te Tō (Freemans Bay), Mokoia, Mauinaina (Panmure) and Takapuna (North Head).

Graham Tīpene (Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei) and Thomas Barter, ceramic artist
‘Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, engari he toa takitini’ series, 2005
Photo by Marlaina Key
Victoria Park Walkway, Fanshawe Street

The title is an inspirational whakataukī (proverb) ‘by one who pays tribute to the contributions of many for a job well done, rather than taking kudos for oneself.’

The mosaic describes the use of the area by Māori who lived at Te Tō Pā around the Beaumont Quarter.

Lenard Phillips (Ngāti Whātua), Te Aroha Witika (Ngāti Whātua) and Lee Ralph (Te Rarawa)
Pou, 1999
Photo by Marlaina Key
Victoria Park Skate Park, Beaumont Street

Two pou whenua (landmark posts) were carved for this one-million-dollar skateboard and BMX course to enhance the visual appeal of the skate park and to reflect Ngāti Whātua’s historical associations with the area.

The pou blend traditional Māori art concepts with a contemporary feel. The pou pictured, carved by Phillips and Witika, is named Waiatarau which acknowledges the history of the stream that ran through the site and its significance to Ngāti Whātua as a source of kai (food).

The second pou, named Te Mau Mahara, was carved by Ralph, a legendary skateboarder. It shows a figure with its arms tightly embracing a skateboard recognising the park’s use and his passion for skating.

Lisa Reihana (Ngāti Hine, Ngāpuhi, Ngāi Tū) and Henriata Nicholas (Te Arawa) with Warren and Mahoney, Architects
Te Tō Bridge - Jacob’s Ladder Footbridge, 2012
Photo by Marlaina Key
Jacobs Ladder Bridge and Westhaven Drive

Lisa Reihana and Henriata Nicholas, as Kupenga Design, were commissioned to tell the stories of the area through design. The representation of a draped fishing net recognises the bay’s significance as an important fishing area in times gone by. Its prismatic form was created to reflect the light and colours of the surrounding landscape.

The whakataukī (proverb) set in concrete at the top of the walkway from the city side, reads: ‘Tāmaki kainga ika me ngā wheua katoa – Tāmaki, where the fish are so succulent you can eat them, bones and all!’’

With views out to the harbour, this bridge reminds us of the wealth that Tāmaki Makaurau was famous for across the motu (country).