Hemo Gorge

Gateway Sculpture

New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute (‘NZMACI’) have designed a concentric gateway concept that acknowledges mana whenua and Rotorua organisations, and is reflective of Rotorua’s rich Māori history and geothermal activity.

We as the RPAT, have an ethos of working collobratively with a range of talented individuals and organisations to achieve stunning artworks. The Hemo Gorge Gateway Sculpture is a stunning example of what can be achieved when we work together – Tatau Tatau.

From the outset i.e. the creation to the delivery of the Hemo Gorge Gateway Sculpture, this project has engaged many parties including the New Zealand Transport Agency, Rotorua Lakes Council, NZMACI, Kilwell Fibretube and a range of stakeholders from across our wonderful city and nationally.

We also want to make special mention to our very generous sponsors who have contributed in so many ways; not just financial, but importantly by providing leadership to our city to celebrate and embrace our unique culture. Our sponsors include Rotorua Lakes Council, NZ Transport Agency, Red Stag Timber, Rotorua Civic Arts Trust, Te Puia, NZMACI, Opus, Rotorua Energy and the Charitable Trust.


Te Wera me te Ahi

Most oral traditions from Te Arawa-Tuwharetoa and Mataatua sources ascribe the origin of Geothermal activity in the Taupo Volcanic Zone to the exploits of Ngātoroirangi, and his sisters Kuiwai and Haungaroa, aided by the Atua (supernatural deity’s) Te Pupu and Te Hoata.

Te Arawa a confederation of tribes “Mai Maketu ki Tongariro” have held firm to their oral traditions passing these from generation to generation in perpetuity ensuring the continuation of their culture, their customs and the practice of ancient traditions through which they maintain a strong sense of spiritual connection to their spiritual homeland of Hawaiki. One such narrative recants the indigenous world view of geothermal origins. A journey of exploration by Te Arawa ancestor Ngātoroirangi who ascended Tongariro, where he almost perished, so intense was the cold on that mountain. Ngātoroirangi called upon his tuahine (sisters) Kuiwai and Haungaroa to send heat and warmth to him, lest he perish. There is a clear correlation made within these traditions between the volcanic mountains and areas of surface geothermal activity, the hot springs, geysers, mud pools, sinter terraces and steam vents.

Te Pupu and Te Hoata, the Atua (supernatural deity’s) of heat and fire, are remembered for creating the geothermal imprint from far off Hawaiiki throughout the subterranean Tongan and Kermidec Trench’s, to the Volcanic landscapes of Whakaari (White Island) Moutohora (Whale Island), just off the East Coast of the North Island near Whakatane through to Mt Tongariro in the Central Plateau, in search of Ngātoroirangi, the great Ariki and tohunga of the Te Arawa Waka (canoe).

For the first time in Rotorua history we will have a contemporary artwork which commemorates this subterranean journey of these Atua and a direct correlation between their journeys throughout the subterranean catacombs and the post eruption surface features. These strands of rising heat and steam symbolically represent the connectedness of the communities who have made these special places their homes among Geothermal fields and the post eruption caldera’s within the Taupo volcanic zone.


Internationally acclaimed for his small scale adornment works, Stacy Gordine is the tumu (head of school) for Te Takapū o Rotowhio (National Stone and Bone Carving School) at the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute (‘NZMACI’).

With over 25 years’ experience as a multimedia carver and adornment artist, Stacy has carved alongside the indigenous peoples of both Alaska and Hawai’i, serving not only as tutor but also as student as he practiced his craft alongside the indigenous master artists.

Arriving to NZMACI in 2013, Stacy continues the legacy of his great-uncles’ Pineamine and Hone Te Kauru Taiapa, who were students of the original carving school in Rotorua in 1927 and tutored many of today’s master carvers. Stacy has led the design of  Tū Awhionuku with the suport of the NZMACI team.


Local firm to sculpture manufacture Hemo

Rotorua’s 12m southern entranceway sculpture will be manufactured by local firm Kilwell Fibretube using world-leading 3D printing technology.
It will take almost 16,500 hours to print on-site at Kilwell’s Rotorua factory.

The local innovators approached Rotorua Lakes Council after becoming aware of issues regarding the manufacture of the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute-designed sculpture, which is to grace the centre of the new roundabout at Hemo. It was originally intended to be made of stainless steel but this was found to be problematic and alternatives were investigated.

“Kilwell approached us so we’ve been working with them, alongside Te Puia/New Zealand Arts and Crafts Institute and Victoria University’s digital design lecturer Derek Kawiti,” Rotorua Lakes Council Art and Culture Director Stewart Brown says.

“It’s a fantastic result – this is going to be very innovative and the fact it will be done locally is really great. The work will also create a few new jobs so that’s an added bonus.”

Kilwell will have 3D printers running 21 hours per day, seven days a week for 79 days, with carbon fibre then layered over the top. If there are no unexpected delays, the sculpture should be ready for instalment by about March 2019.

To find out more about this inspiration concept please contact us