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Scoop Images: Kupe Returns To Capital

CAPTION: Ngati Poneke Maori culture group members at the unveiling of the Kupe statue on Taranaki Wharf; see ‘Kupe returns’, below (Photo: David Gurr).

Kupe returns

SIXTY years after the historic Kupe statue was completed, two of the original sculptors turned out to see a $450,000 bronze replica unveiled on Taranaki Wharf last Saturday (4 March). Phyll Thomas, a daughter of the leading sculptor William Trethewey, came from Brisbane. She was the model for the depiction of Kupe’s wife in the sculpture. Chrystabel Aitken, 96, came from Christchurch in a wheelchair after her great-nephew Philip Aitken saw an item about the sculpture on TV’s Backchat. According to Maori legend, Kupe was the original discoverer of Aotearoa (NZ). He is said to have returned to Polynesia with greenstone and to have given sailing directions which were used later by the crews of the canoes which brought settlers here in a great migration. The statue of Kupe, his wife and his navigator was originally made in plaster for the 1940 NZ Centennial Exhibition at Rongotai. Later it stood for many years in the Wellington railway station. Built originally to stand in a corner, it now has a backing concrete tower which means it can only be seen fully from the outer edge of the wharf, which is closed for construction work for the next six months. However, Tenths Trust chair Ngatata Love predicted that it would eventually become a more popular subject for tourist photos than nearby Te Papa.

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