Statues and monuments from the Auckland Domain are featured including the Pukekaroa Palisade where Princess Te Puea planted a tōtara tree during the city’s 1940 centennial celebrations in order to reaffirm the mana of the Tainui people in the area, and the connection between her family and the Domain. Her great-grandfather Te Wherowhero had lived in two houses on the Domain site between 1847-1858 before returning to the Waikato as the Māori King.
Ref: Pukekaroa Palisade, 2016.
Claudia Pond Eyley and Jan Morrison created the bright Women’s Suffrage mural in Khartoum Place to commemorate the centenary of NZ women gaining the vote in 1893. However, only 12 years later a local businessman described the mural as belonging “in a 1970s craft shop.” Thanks to public support, this mural has survived two sustained attempts to have it removed – including a proposal to resite it next to the White House brothel at the entrance to Myers Park. It is now protected in perpetuity as a national treasure.
One of the country’s most highly respected abstract artists, Milan Mrkusich, designed several public artworks in Auckland in the 1950s-60s including the mosaic mural on the B. J. Ball Building overlooking Fanshawe Street. This is made from thousands of glass and ceramic tiles, and in 1997 the Historic Places Trust notified a plan to give the building a category one listing on the historic places register partly because of the mural’s artistic significance.
‘Karangahape Rocks’ on the corner of K Road and Symonds Street was completed in 1968 by Greer Twiss. A city councillor at the time noted the figures were so thin they resembled concentration camp victims – an unhappy description given the sculpture is on the Jewish section of the Symonds Street cemetery. Twiss, however, had found inspiration in the lean physiques of athletes. A New Zealand Herald editorial concerning the sculpture (1 December 1966) noted a growing awareness that “a city needs more than the purely functional if it is to possess character and provide a pleasant place in which to live.”
The Art and Heritage Database documents many of the public artworks that enhance the city’s character, and which also contribute to creating “a pleasant place in which to live.”
Author: Leanne, Central Auckland Research Centre