Sunday, May 26, 2024

A Gift to the Community

Members of Pakuranga Rotary with guests at the installation site.
Celebrating the completion of the beautiful installation at the Pakuranga Rotary Walkway were members of Pakuranga Rotary, Howick Local Board and Auckland Council on Sunday afternoon, as they unveiled a dream in the making for more than 10 years.

The sun was shining, birds were singing, and the pipes were playing as the guests gathered to mark the completion of Ngā Manu, a sculpture by Dion Hitchens.

Built in collaboration with Auckland Council and Pakuranga Rotary, regulars on the Rotary Walkway now have a landmark stainless-steel kinetic sculpture that stands five metres tall with three large koru/wing forms that swivel in the breeze. Smaller bird forms mounted on the wing edges happily spin in the wind.

While the project has been in discussion for almost a decade with the pandemic playing its part in delaying it, Rotarians Del Johnston and Kelvin Davies unveiled the plaque amongst a lot of good cheer.

Ten years ago as the Rotary Club of Pakuranga decided to celebrate its 50th year of service in the community, it looked for a fitting gift that added value and could also commemorate half a century of dedicated service.

Having worked closely with the Manukau City Council to establish the scenic Rotary Walkway, the decision was made to add a public work of art to it.

The installation comes with a profound message. Ngā Manu refers to the whakataukī “e koekoe te tūī, e ketekete te kākā, e kūkū te kererū”, sourced from the book Aroha by Dr Hinemoa Elder. It translates as: ‘the tūī squawks, the kākā chatters, the kererū coos’ – which is to say, it takes all kinds of people to create a community.

The bird call can be seen as the bird’s identity, different languages for each bird, yet they all work together with the forest to help create a better environment and community. This proverb is also about acceptance and non-judgement, how can we be more like the birds and accept diversity, working together to create a better community and environment?

Rotarians Del Johnston and Kelvin Davis

Dion says that the work of art at Sanctuary Point, Bramley Drive Reserve signifies the `unseen’, allowing people to access stories, values and philosophies that help shape our lives.

“I provide icons for both historical and personal stories, being most interested in the ‘unseen’ values, experiences and philosophies that inform our relationships to the natural world around us. I am interested in how the values from the past can inform our actions for the future. My work explores the connection between all things (Whakapapa).”

Dion’s other public art works with the Auckland Council include, Kōtuku/Kōtuku Lights, Tikiwānga in Onehunga, Totems and Pavilion in Glenn Innes, Cultural Outcrops, and Star Waka in Manukau, created in collaboration with his friend Charles Koroneho.

At the special event attended by two-and-a-half-year-old Grace along with her daddy, Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown, (also a Rotarian) and Howick Local Board deputy chair Bo Burns, Hayley Wolters, manager Public Art for Auckland Council said, “The artwork is a great reminder that community is at the centre of everything that we do, and it was wonderful to have members of the community perform as part of the celebrations with our Pakuranga Rotary partners – Eva and Rebecca from the Fraser School of Dance and the Saint Kentigern Pipe Band, as well as enjoy a community barbeque with kite, poi, windmill making and facepainting delivered by Pohū Arts.”

President of Rotary Club of Pakuranga, Govind Pani rounded off saying, “The Rotary Club of Pakuranga is proud of Ngā Manu, what it stands for, and looks forward to another fifty years of service to our community.”

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