Walks in the city - Te Paparahi Toi Māori

Last Updated : 14 Feb 2019

Wander Auckland’s city streets, squares and laneways this summer and you’ll discover New Zealand’s finest Māori artworks and fascinating stories about our unique Māori identity. 

From taniwhas and Māori myths to iwi villages and battle sites; more than sixty pieces of public art, urban design and architecture reveal clues into the rich Māori history that lies beneath the modern façade of our city.

Olivia Haddon, Māori Design Specialist, recently launched Te Paparahi Toi Māori - the first ever publication and collection of walks highlighting Māori art in the heart of the city.

“Te Paparahi Toi Māori - Walks in the City was created to celebrate the diversity of Māori innovation and creative expression that exists within our city walls.

“One of the biggest contributors to Māori identity is not the buildings themselves but public art, or stand-alone art pieces, that are in our public spaces.

“I wanted to highlight and make these more visible for people to enjoy.

“I particularly love Molly Macalister’s 'A Māori Figure in a Kaitaka Cloak' on the corner of Quay and Lower Queen Streets. The bronze sculpture shows a stance of peace, a contrast to the stereotypical image of a Maori warrior in a fighting pose.”

Molly Macalister Maori Figure
Molly Macalister's A Māori Figure in a Kaitaka Cloak, 1967

“Special works like this reflect the wishes of iwi and have helped pave a new way forward for genuinely expressing Māori values and identity.” 

Te Paparahi Toi Māori – Walks in the City is an inspiring way to learn more about Tāmaki Makaurau.

With eight different walks, each will lead you on your own tour of discovery. Pick up a guidebook from Pā Rongorongo or design your own path with the interactive AKL City Tours app.

Eight different destinations are featured across Auckland’s city centre, each described by their traditional Māori place names, to give a deeper understanding of the indigenous origins of Tāmaki Makaurau.

Walk 1:  Te Rerenga Ora Iti, Tangihanga Pūkaea, Te Tōangaroa, Taurarua Pā

Michael Parekowhai The Lighthouse
Michael Pareōwhai's The Lighthouse, 2017

Point Britomart a former headland on Auckland’s city centre waterfront was known by Māori as Te Rerenga Ora Iti (the escape of few survivors) and is where people can come and learn the history of Tāmaki Makaurau on the edge of the Waitematā Harbour.

Among the eight artworks, this walk will take you to Molly Macalister’s bronze sculpture of a Maori warrior which challenged many preconceptions in the mid-1960’s, to the recent and hotly debated 'The Lighthouse' by Michael Parekōwhai at Queen’s Wharf which questions the current housing crisis as well as Britomart’s impressive 'Pou Tū Te Rangi' – ‘the standing posts that reach for the heavens’.

Walk 2:  Te Kōranga, Tuna Mau, Te Tō Pā

Wander the Wynyard Quarter and Victoria Park area and imagine where the original shoreline used to run; a place Māori spent months extensively drying and processing fish before moving south as the seasons changed.

With over twelve sites of significance, artworks here are extensive and varied – don’t miss walking through the Te Wero Bridge’s gateway 'Waharoa' by Blaine Te Rito at the Viaduct Basin and recalling the myth of Māui and his older brothers who pulled up the great fish, Te Ika-a-Māui (New Zealand’s North Island).

Walk 3:  Te Wai Horotiu

Selwyn Muru Te Waharoa o Aotea
Selwyn Muru's Te Waharoa o Aotea, 1990

Queen Street was built on a valley known for its local stream; Te Wai Horotiu.  Legendary Horotiu is the taniwha that lived in the stream. It ran down from Karangahape Road towards the sea, and still flows beneath Queen Street today.

You’ll find Selwyn Muru’s 'Te Waharoa o Aotea' at Aotea Square, a seven-metre gateway providing a welcome to visitors. Marvel at Fred Graham’s stainless-steel sculpture 'Kaitiaki II' which stands as a guardian at 80 Queen Street and be mesmerised by Lisa Reihana’s 50,000-piece 'Last Dance' installation at Q Theatre.

Walk 4:  Rangipuke

Lisa Reihana Justice
Lisa Reihana's Justice, 2017

Albert Park was a significant settlement with a defensive pā (fortified village) and iwi enjoying excellent growing conditions with fertile volcanic soil and the Te Waihorotiu stream.

This walk is teeming with significant artworks including Graham Tipene’s water feature in Freyberg Place, Lisa Reihana’s 'Justice' a bronze sculpture and the centrepiece of the Ellen Melville Centre, honouring the life and achievements of Ellen Melville, a prominent women’s advocate and pioneer.

Walk 5:  Te Rerenga Ora Iti, Waiariki, Te Reuroa, Waipapa

Walk Shortland Street, the University area and Constitution Hill and you’ll discover Waipapa Marae, traditional artworks along with contemporary glass architecture and glass sculpture.   

This area has an ancient history - Waipapa Marae sits where a significant fishing village once stood near the intersection of Beach Road, Parnell Rise, Stanley Street and The Strand.

Walk 6:  Pukekawa

Tāmaki Paenga Hira
Discover over 1,000 Māori taonga (treasures) at Paenga Hira - Auckland War Memorial Museum

Pukekawa is the name Māori gave to the remains of a former volcanic cone, which we now know as the Auckland Domain. After the land wars in the 1870s, its name came to mean ‘the hill of bitter memories’ as a memorial to those who lost their lives in the battles.

Discover the collection of over a thousand Māori taonga (treasures) in the Auckland War Memorial Museum, Tāmaki Paenga Hira; as well as the carvings that surround and protect a sacred Totara tree planted by the great granddaughter of the first Māori King.

Walk 7:  Te Wharau o Tako

Te Wharau o Tako is the name of the village that once stood on the Swanson Street ridge, between Queen Street and Hobson Street – the area that is now Albert Street and the route of the new underground City Rail Link.

Discover the five sites of significance including 'Pare', a 4.5 metre carving made from 600-year-old Kauri by Ngā Whaotapu o Tāmaki Makaurau, a collective of expert indigenous carvers.

Walk 8:  Karanga a hape

Te Ara I Whiti, The Lightpath
Te Ara I Whiti, The Lightpath, 2015 a collaboration between artist Arekatera 'Katz' Maihi and Monk Mackenzie Architects and LandLAB

The Karangahape Road, now a bustling stretch of cafes and restaurants, was once part of a walking route used to reach the Manukau Harbour.

Discover four sites of significance including the beautiful, hot pink 'Te Ara I Whiti, The Lightpath'. A transformed redundant section of motorway is now a safe cycle path and walkway adorned with koru designs by master Māori tattoo artist Arekatera 'Katz' Maihi; the pink colour representing the heartwood of a freshly cut Totara tree.

Whether you love art, history or walking – there’s lots of reasons to get together this Summer to explore and learn more about Tāmaki Makaurau.

Grab friends and whānau and discover Māori public art in the city - download the AKL City Tours app here on Apple or on Android.

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