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Takapuna ‘Soapbox’ further cements its arts reputation

Takapuna is increasingly becoming a key Auckland destination for arts enthusiasts, with the local business community committed to seeing it grow further.

“We really want to build on the strong arts and culture reputation Takapuna has already earned. We’ve got a first-class hospitality sector to support it and a rich coastal and lakeside environment to help showcase it,” says Terence Harpur, chief executive of the Takapuna Beach Business Association.

His comments come as Auckland Council is set to unveil ‘Soapbox’ - a new and interactive public artwork. The beautifully crafted platform has been designed and built by a collective of artists in collaboration with architecture and design firm Jasmax.

A lake-side public celebration will take place in Takapuna on Saturday 25 May from 11am to 1pm at Killarney Park, overlooking Lake Pupuke. Once unveiled, ‘Soapbox’ will then host several artistic performances.

The new artwork pays homage to Kate Sheppard and other suffragettes, reflecting the ‘soapboxes’ they used to spread their message of women’s rights. Terence Harpur says exploring the theme of women’s suffrage, and marking last year’s 125th anniversary, sits well in Takapuna.

Hurstmere Green is already home to a Kate Sheppard plaque and planting honouring the 100th anniversary of the suffrage movement achieving voting rights for women in 1893 and in remembrance of North Shore’s pioneer women.

Every November Takapuna is a destination for the country’s sculptors. For over 20 years Fort Takapuna Historic Reserve has hosted NZ Sculpture OnShore – the country’s largest outdoor sculpture exhibition and one of the oldest. Proceeds from each exhibition are donated to Women's Refuge New Zealand.

More permanent public art installations in Takapuna include the business association-sponsored owl sculpture also in Hurstmere Green, while a controversial ‘giant crayfish’ mural on the side of the Bruce Mason Centre highlights the plight of ocean pollution.

Mr Harpur says more public artwork is inevitable with Panuku committed to creating a large new town square at the site of the current Anzac Street carpark. Public consultation on its design is set to take place soon, while later this year Takapuna’s main street, Hurstmere Road, will be significantly upgraded with a pedestrian-friendly focus.

What’s more with a former retail building at 38 Hurstmere Road now demolished to form part of the town square, different activations are taking place in that newly accessible public space. They include performances as part of Youth Week and New Zealand Music Month currently underway.

Mr Harpur says no town centre or suburb in Auckland draws as many art and theatre lovers as Takapuna does every week of the year.

“The Bruce Mason Centre is a hugely popular venue that is continually staging world-class theatre, music performances, and exhibiting art. Then we have the historic Pumphouse Theatre, the Lake House Arts Centre on Fred Thomas Drive, and of course our arthouse Berkeley Cinema.

“These are real destinations in their own right which attract all ages, with our 150 hospitality operators 100% committed to further enhancing people’s Takapuna experience.”

Terence Harpur says Takapuna’s latest ‘Soapbox’ installation will be a popular and practical addition, helped by the fact that it’s near the Pumphouse Theatre which enjoys a busy performing arts calendar including a huge variety of shows and classes.


An artistic image of the ‘Soapbox’ sculpture.

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