Major public artwork now in production for Rolleston

SCAPE Public Art is delighted to announce that fundraising is complete for the planned public sculpture in Rolleston Town Centre.

Toro Atua, by Ngāi Tahu artist and Arts Foundation Te Tumu Toi Laureate Dr Areta Wilkinson, is now being fabricated.

It will be the largest public artwork in Rolleston.

Toro Atua will be installed in Rolleston Town Centre’s newly developed reserve, surrounded by Te Ara Ātea, the sensory garden, and youth recreation space.

Toro Atua will be officially opened at a public celebration on 6 July.

SCAPE Public Art project consultant Deborah McCormick thanked all the local businesses and individuals who have contributed to the project, which has a design life of at least 50 years, saying “you are creating a legacy of ambition, inspiration and beauty for future generations.”

Toro Atua is set to become a taonga for the community and an iconic landmark for Rolleston’s rapidly-growing centre. It was commissioned through a competitive selection process by a panel comprising the Rolleston Residents’ Association, Selwyn District Council, SCAPE Public Art, and Ngāi Te Ruahikihiki ki Taumutu. The Rolleston Residents’ Association committed $220,000 towards the total project budget of $450,000. The residents’ association contribution came from historic council funds associated with the Rolleston area. The council delegated the authority to the Rolleston Residents’ Association for decision-making for a public art project for the new Rolleston Town Centre.

It was then up to SCAPE Public Art to secure the remaining funds. Contributions to the total value of $230,000 have now been received from: Creative New Zealand & Tawera Studios, CORDE, ENI Engineering, the Rolleston family, Rātā Foundation, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Ngāi Te Ruahikihiki ki Taumutu, Cooper Developments, Hughes Construction, Isaac Group, IPort Business Park, and TM Consultants. “Everyone involved in the project is excited to see the finished work live in the landscape for decades to come,” says Ms McCormick.

Selwyn District Mayor, Sam Broughton thanked all those involved in the project. He says this public art complements the other work in the town centre and the vision to create a welcoming place for families of all ages to enjoy. “Toro Atua will not only enhance our public spaces but also celebrates the unique stories and heritage of Waikirikiri Selwyn.”

Dr Wilkinson’s distinctive and meaningful new artwork, Toro Atua, takes inspiration from ancestral rock art of Te Waipounamu. The work comprises 20 light-reflecting stainless-steel figures, mounted on tall, slender poles to vibrate with life, shimmering slightly in the air far above our heads. The tallest of these poles will be 4 metres high. The 20 figures will be arranged in groups throughout the reserve, leading people through the landscape and indicating areas of importance.

Fabrication is being done by Christchurch firm, ENI Engineering.

Image: Areta Wilkinson, Toro Atua, 2023, new public artwork for Rolleston Town Centre, artist impression (render detail day). Image by Georgina Stokes.