New Sculpture for Whanganui

Sculpture to stay in Whanganui


Article from the Wanganui Chronicle by  Laurel Stowell


The massive stone and timber sculpture left standing by the Whanganui River after a September competition is staying in the River City.

Wanganui District Council has signed an agreement to support the purchase of the From the Mountain to the Sea sculpture made by Mikel Durel Browne, Kerry McDonnell and Max Cody.

The three artists were awaiting a deposit of $10,000 toward its $40,000 price tag yesterday. The other $30,000 is to be raised by the community during the next nine months, Mr Cody said, and the artists are to help.

The main prizes in the council's inaugural Sculpture Wanganui competition were won by Daniel Clifford's Balancing Act and Paul Dibble's Kereru. But on the awards night Michael Laws, then Wanganui's mayor, offered to buy the six tonne, 4.1m high From the Mountain to the Sea.

Mr Cody said he agreed immediately with the makers' asking price.

Maori leader Archie Taiaroa had died a week before the prizegiving ceremony, and the iwi had asked council to buy the sculpture.

"They felt it was the only sculpture that was part of the area," Mr Cody said.

He's assuming the work will be staying put - it cannot be moved without consultation with the artists.

In its present position Mount Ruapehu can be seen between the two standing stones on a good day.

Mr Browne would be delighted, he had always wanted the work to be sited by the river.

The amdesite rocks that make it come from the base of Mount Ruapehu, near the river's source.

"It's about the journey, the birth of the Whanganui. We have cut the stone in half, and use that cut as a representation of the gap between the hills where the river runs."

The carved totara waka is without cultural markings, so it could be either a canoe or riverboat. "It's a universal symbol of waterborne travel."

Individuals and businesses can contribute to funding for the sculpture by contacting council arts co-ordinator Don Hunter on Ph 349 0001 or email

Written by

Mikel Durel Browne

21 Dec 2010