Art depicting pūrākau Māori to adorn Auckland tunnel

Concrete panels depicting pūrākau Maori will adorn the northbound Waterview tunnel in Auckland. 

The work of art that tells the story of two lovers who escaped underground will be 48 metres long and 1.5 metres high. The art will begin 30 metres outside the tunnel and finish 18 metres outside the tunnel. 

They were designed by Graham Tipene from Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei. 

“It’s great to be able to bring to life a legend relating to Auckland’s tangata whenua and the city’s volcanic heritage and make it a part of something as modern as the Waterview tunnels.”

“The story of Hinemairangi and Tamaireia has an important historical connection with the route the Waterview Connection takes and it’s been great to connect what’s happening today at Waterview with what happened in the past,” says Tipene.

The legend says the couple eloped and escaped capture by travelling along the Manukau Harbour under the feet of Owairaka (Mt Albert) and the Meola Reef at the southern end of the Waterview Connection.

Graham Tipene says it was quite a challenge to translate such a tangled story into one that could be told simply enough to be carved into concrete.

“I’m really pleased with the way they’ve turned out, they’ll make a stunning entranceway to the tunnel,” he adds.