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Kupe statue

Image by Keith Miller

Kupe Statue

Artist William Trethewey
Location On the harbour side of the Boatshed and Star Rowing Club
Tour directions Follow the waterfront around the corner past the link-span bridge

Legend has it

When Kupe first came in sight of New Zealand his wife Te Aparangi cried "He ao! He ao!" (a cloud! a cloud!).

New Zealand was therefore named Aotearoa ([land of the] long white cloud).

Sculpture background

William Trethewey's Kupe Group (1999) was unveiled at this spot in March 2000, but has a long history before this date.

The original work titled The Coming of the Māori (1939) greeted visitors at the Centennial Exhibition 1939-40. It stood at the end of a pool, and was constructed of painted plaster.

After the Exhibition, the piece was moved to the Wellington Railway Station where it suffered decades of vandalism. In 1986, it was moved to the Wellington Showgrounds and then eventually to Te Papa. The original was cast in bronze in 1999.

The piece consists of Kupe Raiatea, the great Maori explorer and discoverer of Wellington harbour, his wife Te Aparangi and tohunga Pekahourangi.