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250 Year Journey Represented by Winning Whangarei Sculpture

250 Year Journey Represented by Winning Whangarei Sculpture

It’s only a short journey from NorthTec to Hihiaua Peninsula, but it was a significant journey for a pair of students who won two of the three awards at last week’s Whangarei Sculpture Symposium.

Competing against 20 artists from across the country, Graham Nathan and Anthony Dunn, who are both in their final year of a NorthTec Maunga Kura Toi (Bachelor of Māori Arts) degree, won the $4,000 Te Au Mārie ‘best theme’ award and the $1,000 Quest People’s Choice Award for their work.

Organised by Creative Northland, the Sculpture Symposium is a biennial event at Hihiaua Peninsula, Whangarei, and culminated with judging and a public auction last week.

This year an additional prize was offered for the artwork which best depicted the theme “Journey”, inspired by our diverse histories of Polynesian and European voyaging, exploration and the first encounters of these cultures. The prize was sponsored by the Te Au Mārie 1769 Trust, who are organising the Northland component of the nationally signification Tuia – Encounters 250. In 2019 Tuia will commemorate the 250th anniversary of the voyage of the Endeavour and the first meetings between Māori, James Cook and his Tahitian navigator, Tupaia.

Anthony and Graham’s winning work, He Tangata, He Tangata, He Tangata, is triptych of three one-metre high limestone sculptures each sitting on a base of tōtara wood embodying the three different world views that Māori, Cook, and Tupaia represent.

Both Anthony and Graham are studying whakairo (carving) but this was the first time they had worked with stone rather than wood.

Graham said “The 'Journey' theme for us was about people, cultures and whakapapa. The idea is that, in the end, we are all cut from the same stone. We all aspire to the same things for ourselves, our children, our children’s children and our planet.”

Te Au Mārie trustee and Symposium judge, Kate Martin, said “Te Au Mārie is planning commemorations and legacies for 2019 that will allow us to understand each other better, recognise our dual heritage and look to a shared future.”

“Graham and Anthony’s sculpture represents this beautifully and we are proud to know that Far North Holdings will mount it at the upgraded Bay of Islands airport in Kerikeri, where it will welcome and farewell all visitors to the region and the birthplace of our nation."

He Tangata, He Tangata He Tangata, will be officially installed and blessed in 2019 as part of Northland’s Tuia – Encounters 250 commemoration events.


About Te Au Mārie 1769 Trust

Established in 2015, the Te Au Mārie 1769 Trust has been established celebrate and share the diverse histories of voyaging and encounters in Tai Tokerau to commemorate Captain Cooks landing in Northland as part of the national Tuia – Encounters 250 programme. A variety of events are planned in the Bay of Islands, Whangarei and across Northland. The Endeavour replica, accompanied by a flotilla of waka and traditional vessels, will visit the Bay of Islands in October 2019. The Trust is also focussing on long-term legacies which will have a positive social, cultural, ecological and economic impact and will include ecological restoration, as well as cultural and education initiatives.

For more information go to

About Tuia – Encounters 250

Tuia – Encounters 250 is a nationally significant tier 1 event coordinated by the Ministry of Culture and Heritage. They are working in partnership with trusts established in four of the Endeavour’s original landing sites - Bay of Islands, Gisborne, Coromandel, and Marlborough - to coordinate the national event for Tuia - Encounters 250 and to progress strong regional commemorative programmes.

For more information

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