A striking 3m high sculpture in welded corten steel by Mark Hill of Arrowtown is a spectacular addition to Katikati’s open-air art gallery.
It shows a pioneer family – father, mother and child, taking a first look at their new home after travelling by boat from Tauranga then up the Uretara stream. Many of those families lived in leaking raupo huts for the next 12 months.
Katikati Open-Air Art launched this ambitious project with a fundraising evening in June 2008 and the sculpture was dedicated on December 20, 2008. It can be seen beside a small raupo swamp in Talisman Drive, close to the arrival point of the pioneers.
A planting plan for the surrounding area was drawn up by award-winning landscaper Trish Waugh and the native shrubs and trees were planted in March 2009 to take advantage of autumn rain. Rocks were donated by Katikati Quarries.
A plaque on one of the rocks reads:
Sculpture in steel by Mark Hill 2008
The pioneers who dragged their household goods up the tidal estuaries during the wet spring of 1875 beheld only a windy expanse of fern, scrub and tutu stretching away to the hills.
(From An Ulster Plantation by Arthur J. Gray)
A tribute to the district’s first Irish settlers from the people of Katikati
Dedicated to June and Colin Carlton, inspirational members of Katikati Open-Air Art from 1991-2005
Major sponsors: BayTrust, Katikati Open-Air Art Mural Town Twilight Concert Committee.
Katikati Open-Air Art not only undertook this project to honour the district’s Irish pioneers, but also as a special tribute to the late June & Colin Carlton who were among the pioneers of Open-Air Art itself. June was project manager and Colin was the practical person who helped turn dreams into reality.
The committee says it has been good to receive encouraging comments about the sculpture. People have described it as “branching out into a modern interpretation of Katikati’s history without being too way out.”
And Open-Air Art says not to worry that the art work is rusting at present. Sculptor Mark Hill warned that this would happen initially. The corten steel will eventually seal itself with a layer of rust or there is a product they can use which will return the original look of leather.
This is Hill’s first public art work in the North Island. He has numerous sculptures in the South Island including a huge stainless steel eagle measuring 12m by 7m at Macrae’s Flat, Central Otago. Another of his sculptures is at Queenstown airport.