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Tauwhare community comes together to celebrate and bless iconic sculpture

More than 40 people gathered at Tauwhare War Memorial Hall over the weekend to bless the community’s artistic new sculpture.

Coming together to celebrate the completion of the community-led project, the group shared food, celebrated, and reflected on the process of bringing the sculpture to life.

“The project begun in 2018 with a funding commitment from Waikato District Council, secured by former Councillor Rob McGuire, and through the intervening years the local Tauwhare Community Committee persevered with the project despite committee changes, site consenting and construction issues, and the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Lianne van den Bemd, Community Led Development Advisor at Waikato District Council.

“The blessing was a great way to celebrate the tenacity shown by the Tauwhare community throughout the project. It really was a commemoration of teamwork and culture.”

Displaying their enthusiasm for the project from the outset, the community created a vision for the sculpture by engaging with schools, hapu representatives, and the two local marae, resulting in the ideation of the sculpture which honours the history and development of the village.

Brought to life by artist Marti Wong and constructed by local builder Lockie Verner who erected the sculpture free of charge, the resulting design is an artistic interpretation of Tauwhare, which means house or place of rest.

“The sculpture embodies Tauwhare by incorporating a whare (house of rest), sun rays into the horizon (a new beginning), a steeple (the colonial church), and flax spars radiating outwards,” says Adrian Pyne, Tauwhare Community Committee Chairman.

“The four posts that ground and secure the sculpture represent the pillars of the community past and present, including tangata whenua and early pioneers, who created the haven of Tauwhare, welcoming travellers and making it a safe resting place.”

The blessing was attended by Waikato District Mayor Jacqui Church, Councillors Crystal Beavis, Mike Keir and Tilly Turner, the Tauwhare Community Committee, kaumatua from Te Iti o Hauaa Marae and Waimakiriri Marae, Pukemoremore, Kiingi Tuheitia’s sister Heeni Katipa, and members of the wider Tauwhare and Tauwhare Pa communities.

Te Iti o Hauaa Marae kaumatua, Te Mape (Fred) Haimona from Tauwhare Pa, and Tauwhare Community Committee Member, Ants Hawes, opened the occasion with prayers in Te Reo Maaori and English.