As part of Auckland Heritage Festival, take our free heritage art trail with your friends and whānau to discover Tāmaki Makaurau’s heritage stories, as reflected in some of our city's public artworks in the Auckland Council collection.
As you walk the trail, have a go at the questions and share your favourite artworks on Instagram and Twitter with the #PublicArtAKL hashtag.
1. Hau te Kapakapa (The Flapping Wind), Rachel Walters, 2011
Myers Park entrance, 379 Queen Street.
Q: Spot the native birds in these three sculptures. Can you name the stream that previously ran through this location?
A: Tōrea, kōkako and pāteke. The Waihorotiu Stream
Native birds play hide and seek in this trio of sculptures in Myers Park. A battered banana box cast in bronze is home to a family of tōrea (oyster catchers). There’s a kōkako playing dress up in a paper bag. And, pāteke (brown teal) can be glimpsed peeking out from a bubble wrap envelope.
2. Sappho, Aleko Kyriakos, 1973
360 Queen Street
Q: Can you see the Greek lyric poetess Sappho in this sculpture? Where was this sculpture originally located?
A: This artwork was originally located outside the Auckland Art Gallery.
Sappho is a cast bronze sculpture of the robed and hooded Sappho, the Greek lyric poetess from the island of Lesbo. The sculpture is hollow and the bronze surface has an uneven but relatively smooth texture.
3. Matahorua Anchor and Tainui Anchor, Russell Clark, 1959
24 Wellesley Street
Q: What kind of Māori water transport used these anchor stones? Where are the real anchor stones today?
A: The sculptures are based on two historic Māori anchor stones from the Mātāhorua and Tainui waka. According to legend, Kupe sailing in the Mātāhorua waka discovered New Zealand. This is one of the first public art commissions by Auckland Council in the 20th century.
The real Matahorua Stone is part of the Te Papa collection and the Tainui Stone is on the grave of Tamati Kingi Te Wetere, in the Awakino Cemetery.
4. Byword, Mary-Louise Browne, 2007
Q: Read the two word sequences engraved on the seats in north and south directions. Can you guess what institutions were previously located on this site?
A: Byword references the earlier use of the site for the Central City Library, the Auckland Art Gallery when it opened in 1887, AUT University and the University of Auckland.
Byword is a set of nine black granite seats that are installed at intervals next to the footpath along one block of Lorne Street. Inscribed into each is a four letter word on both sides. These words change by one letter as you walk along the block. Walking south, the sequence runs: DEED, HEED, HEAD, LEAD, LOAD, LORD, LORE, WORD to WORD. Walking north, the sequence runs: WORD, WARD, WAND, WANT, WENT, SENT, SEND, SEED to DEED. Seats on both ends of the block have WORD and DEED on them.
5. Justice, Lisa Reihana, 2017
O’Connell Street side of Ellen Melville Centre
Q: What are the scales made out of and what do they represent?
A: The scales of justice are made of bronze and reference Ellen Melville’s legal career of 37 years.
Justice sits on the O’Connell Street facade of the Ellen Melville Centre and celebrates women’s advocate Ellen Melville. She was one of the country’s first female lawyers and in 1913 became the first woman elected to a city council in New Zealand.
6. Light Weight O, Catherine Griffiths, 2018
5 O’Connell Street
Q: Look up at the heritage buildings reflected in the mirror – what do you think this area would have been used for in the late 19th century? What type of architecture can you see?
A: After Auckland became the capital of New Zealand in 1841, Shortland Crescent developed as a commercial area; service lanes grew to accommodate workers and workshops in what is now High, O'Connell and Chancery Streets. These streets and the connecting lanes have passed through many stages. They have a rich and varied architectural history, evident through the Victorian, Edwardian, Arts and Crafts, Art Deco and modern buildings in the area.
Floating high above O’Connell Street, Light Weight O highlights the heritage architecture and character of the area. The artwork literally reflects O’Connell’s streetscape, encouraging viewers to take a look around.
7. Kaitiaki II, 2009 and Te Waka Taumata o Horotiu (Resting Waka), 2008, Fred Graham
80 Queen Street and cnr Swanson Street and Queen Street
Q: What part of Auckland’s waterfront heritage do these waka mark?
A: The old foreshore line and local iwi. They remind us of the two famous war canoes, Kahumauroa and Te Kotuiti, which guarded the shores of the Waitematā.
These works mark the city’s original foreshore and signify the important relationship with local iwi. They also sit on the same site as the two famous Ngāti Pāoa war canoes did.
8. A Māori Figure in a Kaitiaki Cloak, Molly Macalister, 1964-1966
Cnr Quay Street andlower Queen Street
Q: What is the warrior carrying and what does this represent?
A: The bronze warrior is wrapped in a full-length korowai cloak and holds a mere (hand club), a symbol of peace. This was seen as controversial at the time as some believed the figure should have been in a fighting pose.
Artist Molly Macalister was commissioned to create “a Māori figure in traditional form” by Auckland City Council in 1964. She was the first female artist in New Zealand to receive a public artwork commission. Macallister was also a founding member of the New Zealand Society of Sculptors and Associates (1961) and a major force behind the 1971 international sculpture symposium in Auckland.
Auckland Council’s public art collection includes more than 400 artworks across the Auckland region. Visit Auckland Council's Public Art Facebook page to find out more.