Māori artist creates one of NZ's largest pieces of public art

By Jessica Tyson

Māori artist Peata Larkin, of Tūhourangi, Ngāti Whakaue and Tūwharetoa, has created one of the largest pieces of public art ever to be constructed in New Zealand.

Larkin was chosen alongside Kiwi designer Sara Hughes to create the four external walls of the New Zealand International Convention Centre in Auckland.

Hughes has designed glass artwork on the southern wall made up of 550 glass panels. Meanwhile, Larkin’s terracotta wall is longer than a rugby field and made of almost 14,000 tiles.

“I wanted to create an artwork that described the multiple waterways and fertile soil Tamaki Makaurau and Aotearoa possesses, as well as connect strongly and aesthetically to Sara Hughes’ glasswork,” says Larkin.

“I wanted to soften the long wall and achieved this by creating an undulating geometric pattern inspired by traditional Maori weaving; a subtle three-dimensional presence that would visually change dependent on the angle it was viewed from.”

Visualisation of NZICC artwork. Source: Warren and Mahoney.

General Manager of NZICC Callum Mallett says a building of the size and scale of the NZICC offers a rare opportunity to showcase New Zealand’s culture and environment.

“We feel Sara and Peata have absolutely achieved our objective of presenting the building and its surrounds as a unique experience of New Zealand to our local and international visitors. These pieces of art are of a scale that people across Auckland, and those within the NZICC, can appreciate and experience in very personal ways,” he says.

Installation of the glass panels will begin later this year, while the terracotta tiles will be installed from mid-2019.

About Peata Larkin

Peata Larkin is a contemporary Māori artist currently living in Auckland. She was born in Rotorua and is of Tūhourangi, Ngāti Whakaue and Tūwharetoa descendant.

Larkin is an artist who plays with interactions of light and shadow and the space an artwork occupies, weaving an elaborate spatial tapestry of pattern, colour and texture with strong references to Maori history, art history and genealogy.  A fundamental aspect of her work is repetition and she has exploited all its qualities of harmony and order and then added scale to the matrix in order to create this very significant artwork.

Larkin’s work is held in public and private collections throughout New Zealand and in Australia, the UK, Dubai and the USA.