At the city-end of Oriental Bay is Te Waka Pou, the pole marking what was once a waka landing site. By Ra Vincent, it was installed six years ago and has become a distinctive feature of Oriental Bay in that time. It combines stylised waka prows made with two totara beams. These are linked by ornate bronze koru patterns which suggest water effects. It sits on a base of volcanic rock (andesite) from Taranaki. It certainly makes a striking statement by Chaffers Marina — a symbolic beacon for those sailing into the harbour.
The sculpture's artist, Ra Vincent, is also responsible for two other sculptures on the waterfront.
One — on the south side of the boardwalk at the corner of Lambton Quay and Molesworth Street — also represents a waka. This one, of white cement and marble, depicts a waka that has been upended at the end of the day's use.
His third waterfront sculpture is an anchor stone. Positioned in Civic Square, it is carved from Taranaki andesite. To suggest age and frequent use it is polished around the hole where the rope goes. It commemorates the location's earlier function as a fishing spot.
Ra Vincent is one of three men (with Simon Bright and Dan Hennah) from the Hobbit production design team who were nominated for the 2014 Academy Awards for their work on the set of the first Hobbit movie. They missed out on that elusive Oscar but being nominated is no small feat in itself. Ra is set decorator on the Hobbit Trilogy, so there'll probably be a next time!
JD, Bay View newsletter 63, May 2014