About To¯ ia Mai
To¯ ia Mai is made from 3mm plate steel and features niho taniwha, a Waikato pattern and reference to a proverb describing the many chiefs and villages along the Waikato River, and a taniko pattern taken from the kaitaka or fine cloak belonging to King Ta¯ whiao. While the sculpture has been built using modern materials and technology, it was inspired by the story of Te Winika, the last surviving waka from the 1860s land wars, an icon of cultural and historical significance for the Waikato River and its people.
The seven-metre-tall sculpture celebrates Matariki (the star cluster Pleiades). Matariki and her six daughters are represented in the waka design.
King Ta¯ whiao was the second Ma¯ ori King, leader and a religious visionary. He was a member of the Nga¯ ti Mahuta iwi of Waikato.