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INNOVATE NZ 2010 Award of Excellence Winner

INNOVATE NZ 2010 Award of Excellence Winner – Richardson Stevens Consultants Waka & Wave

The Whangarei Art Museum is delighted to congratulate Whangarei engineering company Richardson Stevens and Grant Stevens for success in the New Zealand Association of Consulting Engineers Awards announced 31 July in New Plymouth for their work on the massive public sculpture commissioned by the art museum in the millennium year and dedicated in July 2006.This is the third award for the iconic harbour sculpture, together with a further Creative New Zealand Outstanding Individual Award for one of the artists Te Warihi Hetaraka 200, a Citation Award from the NZ Human Rights Commission in 2006; and a Judges Citation from Creative New Zealand for Commissions and Public Artworks 2007.

The journey was long and deeply controversial for the project and it is splendid vindication of a tortuous journey that the public sculpture continues to win admiration and awards. In November 1996 the art museum director first formally wrote to Northland’s foremost sculptor Chris Booth, at that time working on a major commission in Australia. The idea was discussed further on his return to New Zealand early 1997, with many meetings over the next 18 months with art museum kaitiaki Te Warihi Hetaraka and the sculpture’s long journey to fruition began. Five times rejected for funding by both previous councils, the Millennium Office and Creative New Zealand it was finally accepted after many repeated redrafts in February 2000.

“The statement of the sculpture would be bicultural and profoundly imbued with features relevant to local history, society today, geology and geography. It is the intention of the artists that this millennium project is a community supported project with consultation as a major factor”

The first sod was turned to a karakia on the dawn of Thursday 20th March 2003 – a long awaited day of beginnings. The design concept worked through over the years by Chris Booth and Te Warihi Hetaraka was visionary and compelling. The engineering challenges both for the site and the design implementation were considerable. And Grant Stevens as project manager throughout was unflappable!

The completed sculpture was blessed at dawn for Matariki on Saturday July 2nd 2006 by Te Warihi Hetaraka and Te Ihi Tito and a large attendance of kamatua and kuia, and dedicated by the then Mayor Pamela Peters and Hon Judith Tizard Assoc Minister of Arts Culture and Heritage.Tthe Hon Georgina Te Heuheu and the Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres were among many dignitaries from around the country to attend the day long celebrations. A flotilla of waka including the Whanau Moana and waka ama commanded by iconic Northlander, Hekenuikumai Busby’s team preceeded the official opening ceremony.

Waka & Wave was commissioned by the art museum, and sourced its funding from the Lottery Grants Board, ASB Trust and Whangarei District Council and many others. The land on which it rests is now leased in perpetuity to the art museum as custodians. Many local sponsors, particularly Richardson Stevens Consultants became totally committed to the project at Hihiaua Point which has become a visual symbol of cultural maturity in Whangarei.

Congratulations on another Award !

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