Artist Matahi Brightwell will lead a small team to clean and re-sculpt the smaller carvings that surround the giant carving of Ngātoroirangi, in order to return them to their original state. The first phase of restoration is due to commence on 25 February 2019 and is expected to take between two to four weeks.
The Mine Bay Māori rock carvings were sculpted over the course of four years and completed in 1980. The smaller sculptures surrounding Ngātoroirangi depict tupuna (ancestors) and kaitiaki (guardians) that are pivotal to the history of the local Māori tribe. The carvings have not received any maintenance or restoration since then.
The first phase marks the commencement of an ongoing long-term restoration project committed to ensuring the carvings are protected for generations to come. The largest piece of work, due to be carried out over the summer of 2019/20 will include the carving of Ngātoroirangi’s eyes, which will mark the completion of that work.
It is not expected that the maintenance programme will interrupt boat and kayak tours to the carvings, but instead may in fact become a drawcard for visitors to see the artist in action.
“This will be an excellent opportunity for visitors to the carvings to see one of New Zealand’s last traditional marae-taught carvers working on these significant works” says Destination Great Lake Taupō general manager, Damian Coutts.
The cost of the initial restoration work is being funded by the artist himself. A small amount of koha collected since the 40-year anniversary, marking the commencement of carving, will also go towards the artists’ costs.