Story of the Maori Rock Carvings
NGATOROIRANGI – ONE OF NEW ZEALAND’S MOST EXTRAORDINARY ARTWORKS
The story of the rock carving of Ngatoroirangi begins with the artist’s grandmother. Te Huatahu Susie Gilfbert of Ngati Tuwharetoa asked her grandson Matahi Whakataka Brightwell to create a likeness of her ancestor Ngatoroirangi on a totara tree to create a permanent connection for her family to the land. When Matahi arrived in Taupo, there was no totara tree to carve, so he journeyed onto the lake for inspiration.
The rock alcove at Mine Bay became the canvas for one of the most extraordinary contemporary carvings New Zealand has ever seen. Surrounded by smaller sculptures depicting tupuna (ancestors) and kaitiaki (guardians), the carving now towers 14-metres above the deep water of Lake Taupo and is one of the North Island’s biggest tourist attractions.