Made from hundreds of shimmering crystals, Reuben Paterson’s (Ngati Rangitihi, Ngai Tuhoe, Tuhourangi) Guide Kaiarahi is a ten-metre-high waka rising vertically from the Gallery’s forecourt pool.
Commissioned by Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki and Edmiston Trust, the sculpture, made of 611 iridescent crystals, navigates a spectacular journey from Papatuanuku into the embrace of Ranginui to cast a galaxy of stars over the pool.
The inspiration for the crystalline sculpture originated in the well-known legend of a phantom waka that appeared at Lake Tarawera ten days before the eruption of Mt Tarawera in 1886.
Hovering above the Gallery’s forecourt pool like a compass needle in vertical orientation, the magnificent waka suggests navigation to worlds beyond our own. It also refers to navigators’ use of stars to traverse the vast Pacific Ocean to Aotearoa.
Combining references to natural and supernatural realms, the sculpture draws upon Maori cosmology and creation narratives. It also has as a personal resonance for Paterson as his Ngati Rangithi kaumatua describe their iwi, who descend from the Te Arawa waka of the Bay of Plenty, as ‘Te Heketanga-a-rangi’, those who descend from the celestial heavens, in reference to their tupuna, Ohomairangi.
Guide Kaiarahi was created with the support of Edmiston Trust.