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David Lange Memorial gifted to Auckland

Published: 10 September 2019

The David Lange Memorial Trust is gifting the David Lange Memorial to the people of Auckland, to be held in Auckland Council’s public art collection.

The memorial artwork celebrates the life of David Lange, the 32nd Prime Minister of New Zealand, who was born in Ōtāhuhu and was Member of Parliament for Māngere.

“Our trust is winding up. We considered that the council was the most appropriate candidate to transfer the memorial to because of the long-standing relationship between the trust and council,” says trustee Brian FitzPatrick.

Completed in 2008 by artist Virginia King, the artwork is permanently installed on council land on the northern side of Tōia, the council library, pool and leisure centre in Ōtāhuhu.

Mr FitzPatrick, who knew David Lange as a colleague in the law profession and worked with him on several community projects, helped form the trust to establish the memorial.

“The memorial was conceived as a tranquil space for contemplation and reflection,” says Mr FitzPatrick.

It features a vessel suspended above a courtyard. On the north side of the vessel are excerpts from Lange’s maiden speech to Parliament in 1977, and on its south side are excerpts from his 1985 Oxford Union debate. Oriented east-west, the vessel references the Māori portage between the Waitematā and Manukau harbours, and symbolises the passage of life, and alludes to the cycle of time, of sunrise to sunset. Twelve columns surrounding the vessel represent the diversity of the Ōtāhuhu community and are banded with symbols.

Manukau Councillor Alf Filipaina says he is pleased that the trust selected council to receive this gift.

“Art enhances public spaces and is essential in any vibrant, modern city. This work celebrates the life of a larger-than-life Prime Minister and statesman – one who has deep local connections.

“Thank you to the trust for establishing the memorial and for this gift to the people of Auckland. We will ensure it is well looked after.”

The artwork has a current estimated value of $250,000. The council maintains the memorial at a cost of less than $1000 a year and is providing the trust $6000 to assist in it wind-up.

Auckland Council’s Public Art Advisory Panel reviewed the deed of gift proposal and unanimously recommended accepting the offer based on the memorial’s site, cultural significance, current care and ownership arrangement, and alignment with public art policy outcomes.

After the transfer, the memorial will become part of the council’s public art portfolio.

For more information on the memorial visit davidlange.org.nz

Read more: Arts

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