Art on the Waterfront

From the marriage of typographical and literary arts that is the Writers Walk, to the beauty of Tanya Ashken’s Albatross next to the lagoon, art is intrinsic to the waterfront experience, creating surprise and delight in even the most unlikely of places.

Solace in the Wind

Wellilngton’s raking waterfront winds are the paradoxical inspiration for this symbol of tranquility on the shoreline.

English sculptor Max Patte’s Solace in the Wind was unveiled February 2008  – a two-metre-high iron figure leaning forward into a cross-harbour gale with eyes closed and arms held back.

The site on which the sculpture stands was of great significance to Max.  The sculpture’s suspended pose was one he had tried personally, and the area had been a comfort to him during difficult times – it was somewhere for him to reflect upon life – a place of solace.

The Len Lye Water Whirler

Water Whirler was commissioned to celebrate the beginning of the 21st century, and initial funding came from a Lottery Board Millennium Grant to the Wellington Sculpture Trust for its creation.

Wellington Waterfront contributed further and gave the site on which the work is situated – by the promenade at the north-east corner of Frank Kitts Park.

The work involves a 12 minute cycle. Its performance schedule is: 10am, 11am, 12 noon, 1pm, 3pm and 6pm, 8pm, 9pm and 10pm.

There is a “windicator” light on the pier. If this light comes on, it means the work cannot be performed because the wind is too strong.

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Wellington Writers Walk

The Wellington Writers Walk was a project of the Wellington branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors, which wanted to create something lasting to celebrate the Capital’s bevy of writers and poets. The result is an intriguing smattering of text sculptures along the waterfront.  Designed by Catherine Griffiths, each sculpture is a quote by a well-known New Zealand writer with strong Wellington connections. Most are about being in Wellington.

Bill Manhire Writers Walk Plaque © Robert Catto /, all rights reserved

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The Albatross Sculpture © Robert Catto /, all rights reserved





The Albatross by Tanya Ashken was one of the first pieces of sculpture to adorn the waterfront. Since 1986, it has created an interesting focal point next to the Lagoon.

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Fruits of the Garden

During the 2002 New Zealand International Festival of the Arts a number of sculptures were placed along the waterfront as part of the ‘Changing Spaces – New Zealand Sculpture Today’ Sculpture Walk.

Fruits of the Garden

Many Wellingtonians were intrigued and attracted by one sculpture in particular.  Fruits of the Garden, by Paul Dibble, one of New Zealand’s foremost sculptors, was so positively received that it was purchased by Wellington Waterfront Ltd for permanent display and now resides in dramatic splendour on the upper level of Frank Kitts Park.

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Kupe Statue

The imposing bronze Kupe Group Statue, occupying pride of place on Taranaki Street Wharf, was originally designed in 1939 by Christchurch sculptor William Threthewey for the 1940 New Zealand Centennial Exhibition held at Rongotai, Wellington.

Kupe Statue © Robert Catto /, all rights reservedIt was originally created in plaster and finished with bronze paint.  Following the exhibition, the statue sat for 40 years at the Wellington Railway Station and ten at the Wellington Show and Sports Centre before being stored at the Te Papa, the national museum in 1997, as a national treasure.  Subsequently, the Kupe Group Trust successfully fundraised to have the statue cast in bronze and given a permanent location on the waterfront in 2000.

The sculpture features Kupe Raiatea, the great Maori explorer and discoverer of Wellington harbour, his wife Te Aparangi and tohunga Pekahourangi.