Costly taniwha to protect Myers Park
A taniwha will soon be lurking at the bottom of a central Auckland park, for $110,000 more than initially budgeted.
In April Auckland Council put aside the additional money to ensure the kinetic art project, now worth $460,000, is completed at the bottom of Myers Park in the CBD.
To pay for the project council cancelled a $70,000 project in Mt Albert and a $50,000 project in Pukekohe.
The artwork, fully funded by council, will create a gateway beneath the Mayor Drive underpass linking the park to the city.
Ngati Whatua Orakei’s Graham Tipene, who designed the piece, said Myers Park used to be a creek, and still had water flowing beneath the ground. Tipene said because of this a taniwha sculpture was an obvious choice.
In Maori mythology, taniwha are supernatural creatures that live in rivers, dark caves, or in the sea.
Tipene said the sculpture would be represented by scales on the roof of the overpass that would flutter in the wind and a pedestrian boardwalk with water flowing beneath.
‘‘It’s not just an art piece you look at but one you can experience, standing inside and outside,’’ Tipene said.
The artwork was part of council’s aim to improve the perception of Myers Park as a public space.
The park’s recent history is somewhat dark due to a series of incidents, including a homeless man being fatally stabbed in 2013 and an unarmed man being shot dead by police in 2015.
Basement Theatre is located beside the underpass. Manager Elise Sterback said the theatre had conducted a council-funded workshop to brainstorm how to try and heal forgotten spaces in the city. She approved of the redevelopment plans.
‘‘It needs to act like a portal into the park and the central city,’’ Sterback said.
She said the underpass was used by lots of commuters walking from Karangahape Rd into town.
Tipene was hopeful work would begin in the next few months.