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Albatross

Artist Tanja Ashken
Year
Location Between the Lagoon and Frank Kitts park
Tour directions Cross the Lagoon bridge and head right

Shake a tail feather

Young albatrosses initially perform ritual dances with many partners but after a few years choose a single partner and pair for life. Their dance is unique and will never be performed again.

Sculpture background

This ferro-cement fountain was gifted to the city in 1986. The fundraising to bring Albatross into existence lead to the establishment of the Wellington Sculpture Trust.

Of the fountain, Frances Sutton wrote: 

"Its curves evoke the flight of an albatross, while the right angles remind viewers of the city nearby. The water falls intermittently, its fall softening the sold forms" 

At the unveiling of the fountain, Hone Tuwhare's poem Toroa ~ Albatross was read.

Listen to a reading of Toroa ~ Albatross

With permission from the Estate of Hone Tuwhare
For more information about Hone Tuwhare see the Hone Tuwhare Charitable Trust



Day and night endlessly you have flown effortless of wing

over chest-expanding oceans far from land.

Do you switch on an automatic pilot, close your eyes

in sleep, Toroa?

 

On your way to your homeground at Otakou Heads

you tried to rest briefly on the Wai-o-te-mata

but were shot at by ignorant people. Crippled.

You found a resting place at Whanga-nui-a Tara;

found space at last to recompose yourself. And now,

 

without skin and flesh to hold you together

the division of your aerodynamic parts lies whitening

licked clean by sun and air and water. Children will

discover narrow corridors of airiness between, the suddenness

of bulk. Naked, laugh in the gush and ripple — the play

of light on water.

 

You are not alone, Toroa. A taniwha once tried to break out

of the harbour for the open sea. He failed.

He is lonely. From the top of the mountain nearby he calls

to you: Haeremai, haeremai, welcome home, traveller.

 

Your head tilts, your eyes open to the world.