Hamilton will soon be home to another vibrant and engaging piece of public art, with work on the Grantham Street retaining wall starting on Monday 18 January.
Local artist Gemma Yiannoutsos was selected by local iwi for her design named Teenaa Koorua after small native orchids that grow among the branches of the tootara tree.
The concept explores the connections with taatou tuupuna (our ancestors) and the knowledge passed down through the generations. It shows fragments of orchid blooms floating along the river as the past connects with the future and is inspired by the story of Te Winika, an ancient waka with a long and fraught history.
Once dismantled, partially buried and left to deteriorate, Te Winika has now been restored and laid to rest at Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato, overlooking the Waikato River on which it once travelled.
The mural will be similar in style to other installations around the city.
Chris Allen, Hamilton City Council General Manager Development said Gemma’s design was selected because of the story it conveyed.
“The Waikato River is a great source of wairua (spirit) and flows through this land, carrying with it the stories of those who came before us. Gemma’s design illustrates how the waka and the river are bound together,” said Allen.
Located just south of Victoria Bridge, the 90-metre-long retaining wall on Grantham Street was constructed during upgrades to the Hillsborough pump station, which pumps wastewater from the central city across the underside of the bridge to the main wastewater line on the eastern side of the Waikato River.
Allen said public art plays an important role in the development of the city, transforming places of functionality into ones that inspire and challenge people.
“A key priority of this project was to protect our awa by increasing the size and capacity of the pump station. The retaining wall was built to house the new storage tanks and provided us with the perfect opportunity for a dynamic piece of public art illustrating Hamilton’s history.”
Preparation will begin early next week with the mural expected to be complete by the end of February.