Countdown on for Hamilton’s new public art sculpture

A Wintec trades student working on Tōia Mai in the Longveld workshop. Photo Yin Wang.

A Wintec engineering student working on Tōia Mai in the Longveld workshop where the sculpture has been built. Photo Ying Wang.

Tōia Mai, Hamilton’s new, interactive, public art sculpture will be revealed next week at the Ferrybank reserve overlooking the Waikato River.

Artist and Waikato Institute of Technology (Wintec) academic, Joe Citizen envisaged the sculpture for his PhD project, as it encompassed many of the disciplines and values related to his research.

It has been an intense yet exciting two years for Citizen who has worked with staff and students across Wintec, and a number of community and industry partners to complete the project.

“Tōia mai means to work together and this project is “for the people, by the people”, the result of many hands and minds coming together.”

The sculpture tells the Matariki story through an Internet of Things network using data and environmental sensors, and is activated by movement.

“While the sculpture has been gifted to the people of Hamilton, Wintec students will continue to learn from and develop the interactive components, and as technology changes, so too, will Tōia Mai,” says Citizen.

“We are now completing the final testing and I can’t wait to stand before it and see it come to life.”

Wintec director Māori Hera White says the site of the sculpture on the banks of the Waikato River is of particular historical significance as a waka (canoe) landing site.

“We are grateful to Hamilton City Council for the beautiful Ferrybank site, a former wāhi taunga waka or waka landing site for Māori, and the river access to the historic Ngāti Wairere pā and gardens nearby.”

Tōia Mai will be gifted by Wintec and Joe Citizen to the people of Hamilton and the wider region at 4pm on Friday 23 November 2018. The public are welcome to attend the outdoor ceremony at the Ferrybank reserve. Those attending are asked to gather at the Wintec marquee next to the Ferrybank Riverside Venue on Grantham Street before 4pm to follow kaumātua Tame Pokaia to the sculpture site nearby.

About Tōia Mai

Tōia 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 Tāwhiao*. 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 1860’s 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 through an Internet of Things network using data and environmental sensors. The sculpture is activated by movement.

The project was completed through the collaborative efforts of Wintec staff and students, Hamilton City Council, project partner Longveld and the participation of community groups and individuals.

*King Tāwhiao was the second Māori King, leader and a religious visionary. He was a member of the Ngāti Mahuta iwi of Waikato.

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