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Nikau

Artist Ian Athfield
Year
Location Located in Civic Square and on Harris Street
Tour directions From Te Aho a Māui, continue walking towards Civic Square and go down the stairs on the left towards Nikau

Make like a tree and weave

The nikau is the only species of palm endemic to New Zealand. Traditionally, the bases of the inner leaves and young flowers were eaten; food was wrapped in the leaves for cooking; and the old fibrous leaves used for baskets, floor mats, and waterproof thatch for buildings.

Sculpture background

Nikau is one of fifteen stylised nikau palm trees designed by architect Ian Athfield made from copper, zinc, and steel.

The sculptures were originally conceived as a way of covering up the unsightly structural-support pillars, but have since become iconic symbols of Wellington City.

Nine of the trees are structural supports for the Wellington City Library and six stand free from architectural burden. The free-standing nikau palms in different parts of Civic Square help to integrate the buildings and the space as a whole.