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Sculptors unveil meaning of their new Kopua works

It was more a ribbon-cutting than an unveiling last Friday of the two big sculptures which now flank the entrance to the Kopua Holiday Park — after all, the imposing works have been there for all to see for months now.

But the formal unveiling and blessing ceremony did reveal a little something new all the same, as the two Raglan sculptors whose designs were commissioned by the park board were called on to describe to a good weekday crowd of around 100 what exactly their works depicted.

Artist-cum-builder Richard Page — who has works on display as far away as China and Israel — said his sculpture to the left of the camp entrance was intended to pay homage to Raglan’s identity. It depicted a large toki (a Maori adze) oriented towards the sunrise, with the blade pointing to the sky.

The stone was sourced from Vickers Quarries on the foothills of Mt Taranaki, and this symbolised the traditional path of stone from the south to the north.

He told of the many hours of love and work that went into the sculpture, and thanked all who had helped in some way, right down to Raglan Roast, whose coffee “got me kick-started each morning”.

Acclaimed Maori sculptor Tai Meuli then went through — not that much explanation was needed — what his large work to the right of the park entrance represented. One part represented the sail of the waka, the other the anchor stone with the surface sculpted to resemble raranga or flax weaving, as flax was traditionally used to secure the anchor stones of waka.

Tai admitted finding the sail a big challenge as he hadn’t worked a lot with steel before. “And I had to learn how to weld on the spot,” he said.
Those who turned up to the ceremony found themselves very much a part of proceedings, with karangas — chants of welcome — calling them first to Richard Page’s sculpture for a blessing and ribbon-cutting, then back to Tai Meuli’s for the same.

People were encouraged to touch and feel the sculptures as they circled them.

The blessings were performed by Paddy Kaa, Rhonda Chung and Sean Ellison, while Waikato deputy mayor Dines Fulton and Raglan ward councillor Clint Baddeley shared ribbon-cutting duties.

The ceremony concluded with a call by park board chairman Colin Chung for people to come and share in another cultural tradition of sorts, afternoon tea, at the camp.


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