Te Rerenga Ora Iti, Tangihanga Pūkaea, Te Tōangaroa, Taurarua Pā

Queens Wharf, Waterfront, Britomart, Quay Park and Judges Bay

Auckland’s city centre waterfront area is a hive of activity, both day and night. It has been a key area for development over the last decade and is now the location of a busy transport hub and accommodation, retail, dining and entertainment venues.

The area was known by Māori as Te Rerenga Ora Iti (the escape of few survivors) or Tangihanga Pūkaea (the sounding of the Pūkaea), later named Point Britomart. It was the location of a pā (fortified village) named Te Reuroa. Palisades for Te Reuroa pā stood on the corner of Waterloo Quadrant and Parliament Street and extended to the foreshore on Beach Road. The High Court was built in 1868 on the Waterloo Quadrant site.

This trail takes visitors past Te Tōangaroa (the long haul), the Māori name for the bay on Beach Road. The tide went out so far that if high tide was missed it was a long way to drag a waka (canoe) back to the beach. Reclamation there was completed in the 1920s, providing the sites for the railway station and container wharves.

Taurarua Pā / Judges Bay is the eastern most point and the headland pā was originally occupied by iwi (tribe).

Tessa Harris (Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki Te Ākitai Waiohua, Ngāi Tai ki Tamaki, Ngāti Te Ata) and Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei weavers Waitematā
Te Komititanga, 2020
Photo by Jay Farnworth
Waitematā Harbour edge, Lower Queen Street

Te Komititanga – which means ‘to mix’ or ‘to merge’– is Tāmaki Makaurau’s newest public square. The name reflects both the mixing of people and the merging of waters - it is where the Waitematā harbour and the Wai Horotiu stream (now running below the street) merged prior to land reclamation.

The square includes 137,000 basalt pavers designed to incorporate mana whenua narratives. It includes a whāriki (welcome mat) in a woven harakeke (flax) mat pattern.

The design was led by artist Tessa Harris working with weavers from Te Ākitai Waiohua, Ngāi Tai ki Tamaki, Ngāti Te Ata and Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei.

Te Komititanga is a welcoming space for people entering the city by train, bus, ferry, and ship, with tens of thousands of people meeting, relaxing, and walking through it every day.

Chris Bailey (Te Aupōuri, Ngāti Hako, Ngāti Porou)
Horuhoru, 2019
Photo by Asher Walker
Sky Terrace, PwC Tower, Commercial Bay Level 7, 15 Customs Street West

This basalt work references the rocky outcrop of Tikapa which is located on Horuhoru Island, just off the north eastern end of Waiheke Island. Waiheke is vested in Ngāti Pāoa and was the site of uruuruwhenua rituals (traditionally performed when entering new lands) undertaken by those on the Tainui waka when they first arrived in Aotearoa (New Zealand).

Ngāti Pāoa descend directly from the tūpuna (ancestors) that safely guided Tainui waka on its journey to Aotearoa. This piece talks of that whakapapa (genealogical) connection and the significance of Horuhoru Island to Ngāti Pāoa, and as being the origin of the name Tīkapa Moana (the Hauraki Gulf).

Uruuruwhenua rituals (traditionally performed when entering new lands) hence the naming of the New Zealand passport - Uruwhenua Aotearoa.

Graham Tipene (Ngāti Whātua), with Warren & Mahoney, Architects
Whariki whakatau, Ngā Puia o Tāmaki, 2020
Photo by Michelle Ardern
Commercial Bay, 7 Queen Street

In these steps, Ko te Whariki Whakatau Manuhiri/ Nga Whenu Mana Whenua is the woven design and the theme is of welcome. Each third strand references different tribal affiliations and different peoples - we are all part of the one mat. The border half circles indicate fish scales. The long lines represent the pursuit of excellence, pushing boundaries.

Ko nga Puia o Tāmaki/Ngā Hau Wawara is the triangular and curved design and its theme is the natural world. The larger triangles are Auckland’s volcanoes. The design inside is taniko (weaving) representing native fauna and flora and the curved motifs are the winds.

The Māori designs embedded in the Commercial Bay Precinct demonstrate the value of meaningful engagement with mana whenua for large scale private sector development.

Molly Macalister
A Māori Figure in a Kaitaka Cloak, 1967
Photo by Michelle Ardern
Corner Quay Street and Lower Queen Street

Molly Macalister’s bronze sculpture of a Māori figure challenged many preconceptions in the mid-1960s and sent revolutionary ripples through traditional art practices. Macalister was the first female artist in New Zealand’s history to be commissioned to create a public sculpture. The monumental sculpture of a dignified Māori figure, contrasted with the stereotypical image of a Māori warrior in a fighting pose.

To do this, Macalister worked in a completely different way for the times, engaging with tribal elders and seeking their guidance to ensure the work was culturally appropriate and reflected the wishes of iwi. The result is a warrior clad in the prestigious kaitaka (guardian) cloak of a rangatira (chief). He gazes skywards and holds a mere (traditional weapon), by his side. This stance is a symbol of peace.

Michael Parekōwhai (Ngā Ariki Rotoawe, Ngāti Whakarongo)
The Lighthouse, 2017
Photo by Brett Robertson
Queens Wharf, 89 Quay Street, at water’s edge

The Lighthouse was described by Anthony Byrt in ‘noted’ as a “gesture of permanent subterfuge in the heart of the property obsessed city”. Located on one of the most valuable and contested pieces of real estate in Auckland, The Lighthouse is a hotly debated public artwork. It is a full-size replica of a 1950s weatherboard state house, modelled on an actual Auckland suburban home.

A neon light display of the Matariki (Pleiades) constellation, which heralds the start of the Māori New Year, shines from within. Sitting inside is a large-scale stainless-steel sculpture of Captain James Cook, the first European explorer to chart New Zealand (1769).

The Lighthouse honours New Zealand’s egalitarian past and is a beacon signalling Māori struggles for land retention. It questions the current and ongoing housing crisis, its impacts on Māori, and the way the country provides for its most vulnerable people.

Shane Cotton (Ngāti Rangi, Ngāti Hine, Te Uri Taniwha) with Ross Liew, artist collaborator
Maunga, 2020
Photo by David St George
Britomart, Excelsior House, 22 Customs Street East

These pot forms reference objects that appeared in wharenui (meeting houses) in the 19th-century during a period of great experimentation in Māori art. Each pot bears the name of a different maunga (mountain) reinforcing the city’s role as a place where people from around the country gather.

Maunga was commissioned by the Britomart Arts Foundation in collaboration with Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki as part of the exhibition, Toi Tū Toi Ora: Contemporary Māori Art.

Lonnie Hutchinson (Kāi Tahu, Ngāti Kuri ki Kāi Tahu, Samoan)
Aroha ki te Ora (Lover of Life), 2020
Photo by Russ Flatt
Galway Street, Britomart

Lonnie Hutchinson uses intricate patterns to tell stories of her ancestors. In this work, she references the Kāi Tahu creation story. It features not only Papatūānuku, the earth, and Takaroa, the progenitor of the oceans, but a third protagonist, Rakinui, who Papatūānuku had a relationship with while Takaroa was away. Hutchinson has created two sets of three panels. One panel in each set represents each of the three characters in the creation story.

Aroha ki te Ora was commissioned by the Britomart Arts Foundation in collaboration with Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki as part of the exhibition Toi Tū Toi Ora: Contemporary Māori Art exhibition.

Chris Bailey (Te Aupōuri, Ngāti Hako, Ngāti Porou)
Pou Tū Te Rangi, 2011
Photo by Marlaina Key
Britomart, Sanctuary Garden, Te Ara Tāhuhu 5 Gore Street

Pou Tū Te Rangi means ‘the standing posts that reach for the heavens'. Pou are carved wooden posts traditionally used by Māori to mark territorial boundaries and places of significance.

Bailey uses these pou to celebrate the relationship between tāngata (people) and whenua (land) and to highlight the link between the ancestors, the environment, and the mana (authority) of iwi (tribes). He explores key themes of te kotahitanga (unity), te piri tahi (uniting), and te mahi tahi (collaboration).

Pou Tū Te Rangi reflects Britomart’s past and present use by recognising the site’s history as a significant place for early Māori, colonial and maritime activities, and a place where cultures and ethnicities converge.

Chaz Doherty (Ngai Tuhoe), Renata Blair (Ngāti Whātua), Bernard Makoare (Ngāti Whātua, Te Uri o Hau, Te Waiariki, Te Kaitūtae), Mario Madayag and Jasmax, Architects
Pipi Beds, 2003
Photo by Marlaina Key
Britomart, Takutai Square, 130 Quay Street

This square is named Takutai (seacoast or shoreline) and is on reclaimed land near Britomart Train Station. Pipi (small shellfish) beds once flourished on this shoreline. Pipi and other kaimoana (seafood) were an important food source for early Māori living in the area. They were found just under the surface of the sandy harbour flats and could be harvested at low tide.

Pipi Beds is made up of 16 sculptural stones which are part of the Ngāti Whātua Ahi Kā series of works, steel pipi shells embedded into the paving and 24 pop jets which intermittently shoot water up from the ground. This represents the squirting action of shellfish as they filter water for oxygen and food before expelling it.

Chris Bailey (Te Aupōuri, Ngāti Hako, Ngāti Porou)
Tauranga Waka Carvings, 2018
Photo by Marlaina Key
8 Beach Road

Bailey created a series of five bronze sculptures of waka (canoes) for this site. The group is named Tauranga Waka (the resting place of canoes). The location of the waka marks the original the shoreline before reclamation began in 1860. The Beach Road site of the waka is 200 meters inland from the current, 2020, shoreline. The earth used for the reclamation was taken between 1860 and 1880 from Tangihanga Pūkaea where Te Reuroa Pā once stood.

Bailey’s waka emerge from the footpath as though they have been pulled up onto the beach. The waka prows are not as elaborately carved as waka taua (war canoes). This simpler style of carving is on waka used for fishing, collecting kaimoana (seafood) and transporting people and produce.

Ted Smyth and Associates, Landscape Architects
The Casting of the Mana of Ngāti Whātua, 1996
Photo by Marlaina Key
13-19 Mahuhu Crescent Mahuhu ki te Rangi Reserve

Mahuhu ki te Rangi is the name of a significant tupuna waka (ancestral voyaging vessel) of Ngāti Whātua. Great ocean-going canoes were used in the Māori migrations from the Pacific that settled Aotearoa (New Zealand).

Landscape architect Smyth first began to use design elements derived from Māori decorative arts in 1995 when he began work on Mahuhu ki te Rangi Reserve. The reserve has an abstract koru (spiral) embedded into the paving and etched into the edges of the water sculpture. The large central water sculpture is fed by three finger-like troughs. The suspended stainless-steel nets, pictured, symbolically cast wide the mana of Ngāti Whātua, reflecting the unique status of the iwi and the land where the wider development sits.

Chaz Doherty (Ngāti Whātua Arekatera Maihi, Ngāti Whātua)
Poutokomanawa, 2006
Photo by Marlaina Key
Spark Arena forecourt, 42 Mahuhu Crescent

The poutokomanawa (central support pole) in whare rūnanga (meeting houses) symbolise ancestors significant to Māori. Here, the poutokomanawa recognises the enduring status and vibrancy of people of the Ngāti Whātua (tribal group) in Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland) even as the city’s urban environment evolves.

The work is made up of pou (carved posts) and kōhatu (boulders). Inscribed on the boulders are the words ‘He kākano ahau i ruia mai i Rangiātea - I am a seed sown from Rangiātea’. This message emphasises the excellence of ancestors and reinforces the potential of their descendants.

The pou inside the arena and forecourt symbolise the continued occupation by descendants of the great pā (fortified villages) sites in Auckland: Maungawhau (Mount Eden), Maungakiekie (One Tree Hill) and Waipapa (near The University of Auckland marae).

Henriata Nicholas (Te Arawa) with Warren and Mahoney Architects
Point Resolution / Taurarua, 2013
Photo by Marlaina Key
Taurarua, Tāmaki Drive, Parnell

By 2013, the 1930s pedestrian footbridge over Tāmaki Drive linking Taurarua Pā and the Parnell Baths needed to be replaced and raised to accommodate the electrification of Auckland’s rail network.

Auckland Council invited Warren and Mahoney to provide concepts for a new bridge. The result is a stunning structure which cantilevers over the inlet and railway. It offers views of Rangitoto Island and is both functional and in sympathy with the environment. Nicholas designed a pūngarungaru (water ripples) pattern depicting the ebb and flow of water and the movement of people and traffic on and under the bridge. The designs are engraved into the concrete structure and the glass balustrade.

Nicholas says the patterns, colour and texture are sensory taonga (treasures) symbols of a growing and evolving community.

Arekatera ‘Katz’ Maihi (Ngāti Whātua), with Toitu Design Ltd
Untitled, 2018
Photo by Gino Demeer
Taurarua, Dove Myer Robinson Park Judges Bay Road, Parnell

This work references the whakatauki (proverb) ‘He iti te matakahi, pakaru rikiriki te totara - A wedge may be small, but it can fragment the totara’.

Standing at 3.6metres in height, the toki (adze) designed by Arekatera Maihi sits proudly at Taurarua, Judges Bay. it is a significant identity piece which marks the eastern border arm of the 3000 acres gifted by Apihai Te Kawau to Governor Hobson to establish Auckland City.

The material used to shape the toki is laser-cut corten steel and steel mesh, which was fabricated by Metal Magic, Hawkes Bay and installed by Decker Landscape and Civil, Auckland.