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Large scale artworks to be installed along the Tauranga Eastern Link

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Two sculptures inspired by the history and natural environment of the Bay of Plenty will be installed along the Tauranga Eastern Link (TEL) ahead of the highway’s official opening this year, the NZ Transport Agency says.

A huge 130m long and nine metre high palisade pa structure will sit on the south eastern side of the TEL near the Domain Road  interchange, and an eight-metre high spinifex will be installed on the north eastern side of the road, near the Tara Road roundabout.

The Transport Agency's senior project manager Wayne Troughton says the two works, entitled “Bound Around”, were created by renowned New Zealand artist Regan Gentry, who will begin overseeing the installation this month.

Mr Troughton says the public artworks will help create a gateway threshold and a sense of place, transforming the TEL from a long straight highway, into a culturally significant space that reflects local stories.

“These sculptures will help make the TEL a road to remember for travellers,” he says.

“The pa sculpture points to the historic pa sites in the Papamoa Hills and the spinifex references the beach and the wind-blown coastal plant that is a feature of the Papamoa beachscape, which runs parallel to the TEL.”

“The sculptures will join other artworks and urban design elements already in place along the TEL , that identify key locations, such as the waharoa which overlooks the new Paengaroa roundabout, or the panels on the Domain Road interchange that reflect the historic flax trade. 

“There are many special places dotted along the TEL and we felt it was important to capture these and help the community tell the local stories.”

Bound Around is funded by the NZ Transport Agency through the TEL project and the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, with in kind support from Tauranga City Council in the form of poles that will be used to form the pa structure.

The cost of the project is approximately $200,000 including design, build and installation. 

Bay of Plenty Regional Council Strategy Manager Fiona McTavish says the Regional Council was pleased to be able to support the art project.

“Having a public art project like this makes this major infrastructure project more interesting and attractive, while also giving a sense of place and identity to travellers,” she says.

“It also helps to integrate the project into the environment.”

Sculptor Regan Gentry says he drew inspiration from the region’s environment, rich cultural history and even road safety and construction techniques when creating the sculptures.

“There were a number of obvious connectors for me; from the numerous historic pa sites in the Papamoa hills to the beautiful beach, the importance of the port and the products such as wood that will travel on the TEL there,” he says. 

“To me, part of building the TEL was to improve road safety in the area and when you look back at the idea of the pa, that was also to keep the community safe,” he says.

“I wanted to unite the natural and manmade environment and help personalise the location so people really connect with it as they are travelling through.”

Mr Troughton said the Transport Agency had worked closely with the local art community to find the right artwork for the TEL.

“In the end, Regan’s designs were our final choice as they are the perfect fit,” he says. “Regan has strong family ties to this area and understood the important historical and environmental aspects we wanted to highlight.”

The sculptures, made from street light poles, roadside safety guard rails, and wood repurposed from the Coronation Pier will be among the largest public artworks currently on display in New Zealand.

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Artist impression of the pa sculpture.

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Artist impression of the eight-metre spinifex.

Mr Gentry will be speaking about his work on the TEL sculptures at the Public Art Talks, Tauranga event at Baycourt X Space on February 21. This is a full day of talks about public art, with Mr Gentry’s presentation from 9.30am until 11am. Entry is by donation.  www.publicarttalkstauranga.co.nz(external link)

For more information on Regan Gentry go to: www.regangentry.com(external link)

The TEL is one of seven Roads of National Significance (RoNS) identified by the Government as key to unlocking New Zealand’s potential for economic growth.

For more information on the TEL go to:

http://www.nzta.govt.nz/projects/tel/index.html(external link)

For more information please contact:

Natalie Dixon
Waikato / Bay of Plenty Media Manager

T: 07 928 7908
M: 021 928 413
E: natalie.dixon@nzta.govt.nz

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