Public art installation to be officially unveiled in Rolleston

Toro Atua by Dr Areta Wilkinson is the new public artwork for the Rolleston town centre. Artist...
Toro Atua by Dr Areta Wilkinson is the new public artwork for the Rolleston town centre. Artist impression: Georgina Stokes
A new public art display in the centre of Rolleston will be officially unveiled at a ceremony on July 6.

Toro Atua by Dr Areta Wilkinson (Ngāi Tahu) is made up of 20 shimmering, stainless-steel figures on golden poles of up to four metres.

It will be permanently located in the reserve next to Te Ara Ātea, Rolleston's cultural and community hub. 

Wilkinson was commissioned to create Toro Atua by a panel from the Rolleston Residents’ Association, Selwyn District Council, SCAPE Public Art and Ngāi Te Ruahikihiki ki Taumutu, following a competitive selection process.

SCAPE Public Art fundraised over 50 per cent of the project budget to supplement historical council funds that had been set aside for a public artwork. 

The artwork cost $440,000.

The unveiling will take place at 5.30pm on Saturday, July 6.

"It is a free, public event, and everyone is welcome," Selwyn Mayor Sam Broughton said.

“Watching the work take shape, I’m sure that the artist has more than achieved her vision of creating a distinctive herald of Rolleston, which will delight and intrigue residents and visitors.

"Not only (is Selwyn) the fastest growing centre in the region, but we are also becoming more confident in embracing and celebrating our distinctive landscape and cultural heritage.” 

The sculpture draws on the cultural narrative for Te Ara Ātea, gifted to the district council by mana whenua, Ngāi Te Ruahikihiki ki Taumutu.  

Ruahikihikitanga Portfolio Leader, Puamiria Parata-Goodall welcomed the artist’s sensitive response to mana whenua stories.

“Toro Atua reflects many strands of the narrative, where we speak to the whakapapa, kōrero and mahinga kai traditional food and resource practices.

"Another key aspect is the importance of the site as a pouwhenua or marker in the network of traditional and contemporary trails across the landscape of Tauwharekākaho Rolleston.”