The purple and yellow colours of Kate Sheppard’s suffrage ribbons from 1893 are captured in a new, playful and interactive sculpture in Pukekohe Town Square.
Called Mahi Tahi by local artist Jae Kang, the work is part of a public art series commemorating the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New Zealand – a series of works to be placed in different parts of the city.
Each of the two striking and colourful linear structures of Mahi Tahi – one yellow and one purple – has a crank handle which the people of Pukekohe were first to turn at Rhythm in the Square on 2 March.
Kang says each of the ribbons slowly rotates creating an 'undulating and harmonious' unison of ribbons flowing in the air.
“I wanted the teamwork required to move the structures to help make it engaging and exciting for people,” she says.
Jae Kang is a well-known local artist and tomato grower. Born in South Korea, Kang has established her New Zealand arts practice and is now based in Waiuku. This is her first public artwork in the Auckland Council public art collection.
Kang’s work of art for the community of Pukekohe is based on principles of 'working hands-on' and 'working together' and it also honours the long journey of women working together towards equality.
She also wanted to celebrate Franklin’s horticulture industry and the many farmers and growers working together on the land.
Auckland Council Public Art Manager Emily Trent says, “Not only does Mahi Tahi respond to the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New Zealand, the work also promotes community participation.
"It is a dynamic, kinetic sculpture that requires people to work together.”
Franklin Local Board member Sharlene Druyven says, “Mahi Tahi speaks to the way women worked together to achieve the vote for women in New Zealand in 1893 and also speaks to the way growers from a range of cultures in the Franklin area proudly work together tending their fertile land by hand to bring fresh produce to Aucklanders every day.”
Mahi Tahi is the second suffrage-themed work to be installed as part of the series by local female artists. It joins Kid Justice, by Erin Forsyth, which was recently installed in Howick.
Another upcoming artwork, which will be in-situ for five years is Soapbox by architects and designers Olivia Collinson, Vanessa Coxhead, Stephanie Darlington, Prue Fea, Jayne Kersten and Madeleine Racz, in collaboration with Jasmax. To be installed in Killarney Park, Takapuna.
The suffrage-themed public artworks are the inaugural works to have been commissioned to stand on permanently-installed plinths for the next five years, after which time there will be an opportunity for another series of public artworks to take their place.