Huia alight at Girls’ High
Huia were once a striking songbird and now two sculptures of them form a gateway to a place where high school students spread their wings.
The stylised steel birds either side of the gate to Palmerston North Girls’ High School’s Huia Centre – the school’s hall and performing arts centre at the end of Huia St off Fitzherbert Ave – were designed last year as part of a school competition.
Two winning entries, submitted by students Marino Te RataOwen and Leilani Niko, were amalgamated into the final work.
Both were pleased with how their designs had been realised.
‘‘I was amazed at how beautiful they looked when they were unveiled,’’ Leilani said.
‘‘It’s my first piece of public artwork, and there are going to be more.’’
The two-sculpture installation has been named Te Mokai a Tautu, or the pet of Tautu.
‘‘Tatau was a tohunga who lived in the Tararua Ranges,’’ Leilani said.
‘‘Huia were easy to tame and became pets. [Tautu] used his bird as amessenger between this world, Te Ao Ma¯rama, and the spiritual world, Te Ao Wairua,’’ Marino said.
After the designs were combined, Leilani said they still had input into the process, and there was ongoing consultation with Doug Bruhn at Extol, who was responsible for making and installing the pieces.
Extinct early in the 20th century. the waharoa or gateway, features male and female huia. The male bird with the shorter beak found food and fed the female through the incubation and brooding period.
The huia were mounted on gateposts decorated with blue stepped tukutuku patterns, representing the steps to knowledge, achievement and attainment.
A new waharoa or gate at Palmerston North Girls’ High School showcases the extinct huia, designed by Leilani Niko, 15, and Marino Te Rata-Owen, 15.