It’s only a short journey from NorthTec to Hihiaua Peninsula, but it was a significant journey for a pair of students who won two of the three awards at last week’s Whangarei Sculpture Symposium.

Competing against 20 artists from across the country, Graham Nathan and Anthony Dunn, who are both in their final year of a NorthTec Maunga Kura Toi (Bachelor of Māori Arts) degree, won the $4,000 Te Au Mārie ‘best theme’ award and the $1,000 Quest People’s Choice Award for their work.

Organised by Creative Northland, the Sculpture Symposium is a biennial event at Hihiaua Peninsula, Whangarei, and culminated with judging and a public auction last week.

This year an additional prize was offered for the artwork which best depicted the theme “Journey”, inspired by our diverse histories of Polynesian and European voyaging, exploration and the first encounters of these cultures.  The prize was sponsored by the Te Au Mārie 1769 Trust, who are organising the Northland component of the nationally signification Tuia – Encounters 250.  In 2019 Tuia will commemorate the 250th anniversary of the voyage of the Endeavour and the first meetings between Māori, James Cook and his Tahitian navigator, Tupaia.

Anthony and Graham’s winning work, He Tangata, He Tangata, He Tangata, is triptych of three one-metre high limestone sculptures each sitting on a base of tōtara wood embodying the three different world views that Māori, Cook, and Tupaia represent.

Both Anthony and Graham are studying whakairo (carving) but this was the first time they had worked with stone rather than wood.

Graham said “The ‘Journey’ theme for us was about people, cultures and whakapapa. The idea is that, in the end, we are all cut from the same stone. We all aspire to the same things for ourselves, our children, our children’s children and our planet.”

Te Au Mārie trustee and Symposium judge, Kate Martin, said “Te Au Mārie is planning commemorations and legacies for 2019 that will allow us to understand each other better, recognise our dual heritage and look to a shared future.”

“Graham and Anthony’s sculpture represents this beautifully and we are proud to know that Far North Holdings will mount it at the upgraded Bay of Islands airport in Kerikeri, where it will welcome and farewell all visitors to the region and the birthplace of our nation.”

He Tangata, He Tangata He Tangata, will be officially installed and blessed in 2019 as part of Northland’s Tuia – Encounters 250 commemoration events.


He tangata, he tangata, he tangata

Photos by Chris Schreuder Photographer

Reminiscent of Eastern island-Rapanui figures, representing the 3 cultures that met in 1769: Marks on their cheeks symbolise Maori, British & Tahitian. Standing on their different world views, underneath the same, kotahitanga kaupapa.