Major artwork a taonga for Rolleston

Selwyn District’s newest public artwork will be officially opened on 6 July 2024.

Toro Atua, by Dr Areta Wilkinson (Ngāi Tahu), is intended as a legacy for future generations.

Made up of twenty shimmering, stainless-steel figures on golden poles up to four metres tall, the artwork will be a distinctive landmark in Rolleston Town Centre. It will be permanently located in the reserve next to Te Ara Ātea, Rolleston’s cultural and community hub.

Dr Wilkinson was commissioned to create Toro Atua by a panel from the Rolleston Residents’ Association, Selwyn District Council, SCAPE Public Art and Ngāi Te Ruahikihiki ki Taumutu, following a competitive selection process. SCAPE Public Art fund-raised over 50% of the project budget to supplement historical council funds that had been set aside for a public artwork.

The opening event, hosted by Selwyn District Council, will be at 5.30pm on Saturday 6 July. It is a free, public event, and everyone is welcome.

Selwyn District Mayor Sam Broughton says, “watching the work take shape, I’m sure that the artist has more than achieved her vision of creating a distinctive herald of Rolleston, which will delight and intrigue residents and visitors.” Toro Atua is another sign of Rolleston, and Selwyn District, coming of age, says Mr Broughton: “not only are we the fastest growing centre in the region, but we are also becoming more confident in embracing and celebrating our distinctive landscape and cultural heritage.”

The sculpture draws on the cultural narrative for Te Ara Ātea gifted to Selwyn District Council by mana whenua, Ngāi Te Ruahikihiki ki Taumutu.

Ruahikihikitanga Portfolio Leader, Puamiria Parata-Goodall welcomed the artist’s sensitive response to mana whenua stories. “Toro Atua reflects many strands of the narrative, where we speak to the whakapapa, kōrero and mahinga kai traditional food and resource practices. Another key aspect is the importance of the site as a pouwhenua or marker in the network of traditional and contemporary trails across the landscape of Tauwharekākaho Rolleston.”

Artist Dr Areta Wilkinson says creating Toro Atua is an immense privilege and a career highlight. “Objects become taonga through the community of care around them. Already many people have contributed their energy and skill to this project. My hope is that Toro Atua will become integral to the sense of identity and landscape of generations of local people.”

Dr Wilkinson paid tribute to the team at ENI Engineering in Christchurch, despite it being a departure from her usual hands-on approach to artmaking. “It’s been great, actually; they have taken a lot of care, and we have worked very well together.”

Josh Down of ENI Engineering says one-off jobs like Toro Atua require close attention to detail. “We’re lucky to have guys on staff who love a challenge. I think they’ve done the work proud, and it’s a great showcase for local manufacturing.”

After the completed figures were set in place, specialist lighting was installed by CORDE to enhance the impact of the artwork at night.

The Rolleston Residents Association chair Mark Alexander says they are pleased to have been part of the process of bringing this artwork to our Rolleston community and to our Selwyn District. “We thank all that have contributed including the artist Dr Areta Wilkinson and especially SCAPE Public Art whose fundraising efforts doubled the available funds for the project.”

Executive Director of SCAPE Public Art, Richard Aindow, says Toro Atua represents a new departure for the Christchurch-based organisation. “In its 26-year history, SCAPE has engaged with over 250 artists, including producing 17 permanent artworks, in Christchurch. Public art has such power to connect people in and to public spaces, so as a Selwyn District resident myself, it’s a thrill to produce artwork that Rolleston residents can enjoy in their own backyard,” he says.

SCAPE thanks the project’s funders and sponsors, who made the work possible. They are:

Opening Event Details:

Saturday 6 July, 5.30pm. Rolleston Reserve, behind Te Ara Ātea, 56 Tennyson Street, Rolleston.

Please dress warmly and bring a torch. This is a free public event hosted by Selwyn District Council that will feature Ngāi Tahu storytelling by Juanita Hepi; everyone is welcome.

More about the artwork:


In developing this artwork, Dr Areta Wilkinson identified three “premises” arising from the cultural narrative of Ngāi Te Ruahikihiki ki Taumutu about the original village Orariki. These premises are:

Mauri: the life-giving force. In this artwork, “mauri is expressed through an assembly of imagined figures teaming with liveliness. Semblances of feathered, land-bound or marine creatures, these characters both familiar and other worldly vibrate with life from their elevated stations high above our heads,” says Dr Wilkinson.

Mahinga Kai: natural resources and the traditional practices of harvesting, preparation and storage, according to the seasons, which entailed migration through the landscape.

Pouwhenua: wayfinding, ancient trails, new directions. “Toro means to scout, explore and extend. Toro Atua are divine scouts sent forth to search, guide and scrutinise our movement and impact on this whenua,” says Dr Wilkinson.

Visual Language

Toro Atua employs an original visual language developed by the artist, drawing inspiration from ancestral rock art. The figures on each pole are not intended to directly map onto or represent specific natural or supernatural creatures. Instead, the artist invites us to be curious and use our imagination when we look at Toro Atua. “Shapes are evocative – bearing a hint or trace of something we recognise,” she says.

Relationship to broader creative practice

Dr Wilkinson sees Toro Atua as part of a broader exploration of mahinga kai, which can also be seen in smaller works shown in recent years, including in:

Paemanu: Tauraka Toi. A Landing Place, Dunedin Public Art Gallery, 2021-22

Moa-Hunter Fashions, Christchurch Art Gallery, 202-21


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.

Walk the red line for art

Four kilometres of red fabric tape is being laid on footpaths in central Ōtautahi Christchurch, to guide people around the 2023 Season of SCAPE Public Art.

Six new temporary artworks will be in place by the end of Thursday 23 November on sites along the Ōtākaro Avon River, Te Matatiki Toi Ora The Arts Centre, and Christchurch Casino.

In its 25th anniversary year, SCAPE Public Art has chosen to support work by New Zealand artists who have never produced public art before. “It is a privilege to provide opportunities for these exciting artists and bring free-to-view public art to the people of Christchurch,” says SCAPE Executive Director Richard Aindow.

Works by artists Priscilla Rose Howe, Susu Tzu-Cheng, Te Ara Minhinnick, Tūī Matira Ranapiri-Ransfield, Maioha Kara, and Synthia Bahati are being released for the Season opening, all responding to the theme ‘The Gift,’ set by Managing Curator Tyson Campbell. Artists Ming Ranginui and Denise Porter-Howland will have their works released as additional gifts to Ōtautahi in the New Year.

Aindow says that SCAPE’s Season enables artists to create work that is often more ambitious than they could produce on their own and enables the public to engage with fresh ideas and innovative production methods.

Two murals and three sculptures by competition-winning, school students supported by SCAPE will be installed at Te Matatiki Toi Ora The Arts Centre in time for the public opening at midday on Saturday (25 November).

SCAPE’s public art trail is marked by a red line on central city footpaths. Fold-out maps are available from Tūranga, The Arts Centre, and some cafés and galleries. A simple ‘Family Art Adventure’ challenge will also launch on Saturday, with a Grand Prize of a $200 voucher from the Tiny Toy Shop at The Arts Centre.

The season officially runs from 25 November 2023 to 17 February 2024.

SCAPE Public Art has been installing free-to-view public art in Ōtautahi Christchurch for 25 years. It is the largest producer of public art in Aotearoa New Zealand. SCAPE is a charitable trust, which operates thanks to numerous partnerships with industry and the generosity of patrons and sponsors, many of whom help in production of the artworks. The Platinum Sponsors of Season 2023 are: Christchurch City Council, Creative NZ, Rātā Foundation, and The Lion Foundation

New SCAPE Managing Curator bringing an inspiring new season of public art to Ōtautahi

New SCAPE Managing Curator bringing an inspiring new season of public art to Ōtautahi.

The artists for SCAPE Public Art Season 2023 have been announced, and the line-up promises to deliver a dynamic, youthful season of temporary artworks in central Ōtautahi  Christchurch.

SCAPE Public Art has confirmed the new season dates for 2023, a 12-week festival of free-to-view public art running from 25 November 2023 to 17 February 2024. The SCAPE season is a highlight in the cultural calendar in Ōtautahi, comprising eight new temporary artworks that will serve as the perfect incentive for residents and visitors to head out and explore their city this summer.

Season 2023 is the first in Tyson Campbell’s three-year tenure as SCAPE’s new Managing Curator. Campbell hand-picked each of the eight season artists for their unique interpretations of the season theme, The Gift.

Read the full media release here, Word doc or PDF.

Season 2023 artists from top left: Ming Ranginui, Te Ara Minhinnick, Synthia Bahati, Susu, Tūi Matira Ranapiri-Ransfield, Denise Porter-Howland, Priscilla Rose Howe, Maioha Kara

New Christchurch public artwork reflects on Antarctic exploration

Render of Brett Graham's Erratic

Auckland-based artist Brett Graham (Ngāti Koroki Kahukura, Tainui) spent several months hard at work in a tent in Henderson with his friend Steve Woodward, grinding and chipping away at a nine-tonne piece of Norwegian Arctic White granite for his new sculpture, Erratic. Commissioned by Christchurch City Council and produced in association with SCAPE Public Art, the artwork is being installed along the Ōtakaro Avon River, opposite the statue of Robert Falcon Scott.

This new sculpture speaks to the journey of another Antarctic explorer, Roald Amundsen, whose skill and use of indigenous expertise in reaching the South Pole were largely ignored by the British press in favour of Scott. It takes the form of a large, horizontal, rounded piece of granite, imported from Amundsen’s homeland of Norway. The 99 mounds on its surface, unfurling in a spiral from the centre, reference the number of days that Amundsen and his men took to journey to the South Pole and back. The design of the mounds also draws from indigenous calendars and the Inuit tradition of building stone mounds to mark territories.

Indigenous peoples and issues are a strong guiding force through Graham’s art. Through his Māori whakapapa, he feels affiliated with a global network of non-Western people, and his work consciously engages with indigenous issues and how they are affected by the history of imperialism.

“I am intrigued by how history chooses to memorialise events and historical figures, while forgetting others,” Graham says. “Amundsen was the actual ‘victor’ in the ‘race’ to the South Pole, but because he wasn’t British, he was overlooked, even vilified. His genius in using the techniques he learned from Inuit communities on how to survive the extreme cold was seen as unsporting.”

“We welcome Brett Graham’s quietly monumental work Erratic to the city’s growing public art collection,” says Public Advisory Group Chair Anthony Wright. “With its glacial and Antarctic connections it speaks to the natural and human forces that have shaped Te Waipounamu and adds to the city’s Antarctic gateway narrative.”

Erratic is a sculpture that ruminates on the very nature of memorials, and how only select elements of history are seen as worth memorialising. The title of the artwork takes inspiration from glacial erratics: rocks that have been carried vast distances by glaciers and deposited somewhere far from their point of origin. It is also a play on words for the way the British Empire, including the Commonwealth, have chosen to remember history.

“We are delighted to be the producers of another permanent public artwork for Ōtautahi,” says SCAPE Public Art Executive Director Deborah McCormick. “Brett’s work has such an incredible story to tell and carries such weight both culturally and artistically. Erratic will make a fabulous addition to our city’s legacy artwork collection.”

Erratic is being unveiled on 11 March.

This artwork is made possible thanks to the support of Naylor Love, Cosgroves, Treetech, Beca, Ōtākaro Limited, Anderson Lloyd and Christchurch City Council.

SCAPE Public Art Announces Executive Director’s Resignation

SCAPE Public Art announced today its Executive Director, Deborah McCormick, has resigned from her role of Executive Director effective 31 March 2023 after her highly successful 25 years at the helm.

SCAPE will be recruiting for a Creative Director to join the team before Deborah’s departure. Deborah will work with her successor to transition SCAPE Public Art into a new era for its next 25 years.

SCAPE is in the best shape in terms of arts and business ready to launch the new platform and the future. Deborah will leave SCAPE in a very strong position for future growth and sustainability.

“It has been a tremendous privilege to have served in this role and deliver so much creative inspiration for my home city Christchurch and New Zealand. I believe that this is the right point in my career to take on new challenges,” Deborah said.

“Next year will celebrate 25 years of SCAPE Public Art and acknowledging Deborah’s role in overseeing the installation of an amazing portfolio of both permanent and temporary public art,” said Michael Fulton, Chair of SCAPE Public Art Trust. “She has provided outstanding leadership through difficult and challenging times such as the Christchurch earthquakes and Covid. Deborah has been a key figure in the first 25 years of SCAPE, and the board wish her well with her future career, knowing she will remain a strong supporter of SCAPE and our next 25 years.”

Next week’s launch of SCAPE Public Art Season 2022 brings works from eight local and international artists to the city. Each artist’s work will showcase their unique interpretation of this year’s theme, Sweat Equity, a compelling conclusion to Managing Curator Jamie Hanton’s overall vision of Fictions, which has tied together SCAPE Public Art’s seasons from 2020-2022.

Eight new public artworks to open in central Ōtautahi

SCAPE Public Art Season 2022 Sweat Equity opens on Saturday 5 November, bringing artworks from eight local and international artists to Ōtautahi for the public to enjoy until 29 January 2023. This free annual event is a highlight of Christchurch’s cultural calendar, inviting its residents and visitors to soak in the sun, wander the city and discover the delights of inspiring, intriguing and sometimes-surprising works of public art this summer.

The opening weekend on Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 November is packed with special events to kick off the season. Hye Rim Lee’s new animation artwork, White Rose, will be on display on the large outdoor event screen at Te Pae for the opening weekend only.

Hye Rim’s animation and limited edition digital photographic prints will also be on display for a limited time at SCAPE Public Art’s new pop-up gallery in The Arts Centre Old Registry Building, along with the season artworks from YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES. These innovative digital artworks are available to view between 11am and 3pm, Wednesday to Saturday, until Friday 16 December.

The first of Managing Curator Jamie Hanton’s free guided walking tours is on Saturday 5 November, where participants will get background information on the artworks and artists, as well as an inside perspective on the production process and Jamie’s vision for the season. The walk starts at The Piano and takes approximately 1.5 hours. Bookings required.

Also on Saturday, SCAPE Public Art celebrates the launch of artworks from the talented young winners of this year’s Re:ACTIVATE Aspiring Artists competition. The winning students have worked with SCAPE and its industry partners to produce their designs for public display in Hagley Park, and on Saturday, SCAPE and the junior and senior winners of the Re:ACTIVATE Sculpture category will be on site to celebrate the completion and installation of their works. The competition has been extended this year to include a mural category thanks to generous support from Resene. The two winning mural designs will be on display from Saturday 19 November.

Click here to download the full media release (PDF)

Click here to download the full media release (MS Word)

Public Art Takes Over Central Christchurch for SCAPE Season 2021

Season 2021

Meet the artists of SCAPE Season 2021!

Running from 9 October – 20 November, eight locally and internationally recognised artists will be debuting artworks around central Ōtautahi | Christchurch, showcasing their interpretations of the theme Shadows Cast.

Media release (MS Word)

Media release (PDF)

Help SCAPE share the joy of public art with Hillmorton Hospital!

Bold, bright and brilliantly yellow, SCAPE Public Art is on a mission to permanently move Seung Yul Oh’s delightful Conduct Cumulus sculpture to the Hillmorton Hospital Grounds – but needs your help!

Coupled with the delivery of an outreach Art, Learning and Wellbeing programme, SCAPE is fundraising to bring the joy of art to the patients, staff and whānau of Hillmorton Hospital.

Donate now!

Media release (PDF)

Media release (MS Word)

Ceremonial entranceway for the new convention centre

A stunning white Ngutu, or ceremonial entranceway, will be a feature of the Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre.

Te Aika has been designed by artists Rachael Rakena and Simon Kaan and will be produced by SCAPE Public Art in collaboration with Matapopore.

In the media.

Media release (MS Word)

Media release (PDF)

Local artist breathes sea air into the central city

A new Melissa Macleod public artwork provides a vault of fresh air in the Ōtautahi Christchurch CBD.

In a new public artwork, on an east wind sees artist Melissa Macleod capturing the fresh sea air from around the New Brighton coastline, in 144 enormous bags installed in the Awly Building on the corner of Durham and Armagh Streets. The bags are carefully held in large aluminium structures constructed specifically to secure them and their stories.

Pictured: Melissa Macleod on an east wind 2020
Sea Air (New Brighton coastline), dunnage bags, aluminium

Media release (MS Word)

Media release (PDF)

New Dane Mitchell public artwork of epic proportion for SCAPE in Ōtautahi Christchurch

A mount to hold up the elephant in the room is enclosed in the pre-quake Court Theatre for the SCAPE Public Art Season 2020 which opens on Saturday, 3 October.

A new public artwork by Dane Mitchell, which looks set to hold an object in a museum, is a giant steel apparatus constructed to hold the invisible contours of a missing object on a mammoth scale.

Media release (MS Word)

Media release (PDF)