I thought nothing could beat a $1m state house sculpture, I was wrong


Finally a council has outdone Auckland Council on stupid sculptures.

If you thought $1m for a fake state house on Auckland waterfront was bad look at what has been inflicted on Hamilton.

For a few minutes the rain held off and the grey clouds parted for people to see Hamilton’s newest central city art work.

The three-storey sculpture, Tongue of the Dog, created by artist Michael Parekowhai, was officially opened on Victoria Street on Tuesday evening.

The $700,000 sculpture was gifted to the city by Mesh Sculpture Hamilton, and funded by donations from more than 70 different donors.

Art enthusiasts, sponsors, donors, city councillors, and the public admired the sculpture which is set outside Waikato Museum.  

People ignored the rain, taking a good walk around the structure, processing the colourful artwork after setting eyes on it for the first time.

A talking point of the artwork is that it gives the impression of being constructed from giant-sized versions of Cuisenaire rods.

Deputy Chair and Treasurer of Mesh, Stuart Anderson, said there was a sense of relief, but also a sense of pride, to be able to present the artwork to the city.

“It feels great we’ve now got this incredible iconic sculpture. It’s vibrant, it’s colourful, and it contrasts really nicely with the older buildings around.”

He said the Hamilton now has something that tells a story, a story that needed to be told.

Yeah and that story of Hamilton is what precisely?

“I’m just staggered that people don’t know the legend of the Waikato River. I didn’t, until this came in front of us.”

The inspiration came from a Maori legend, retold inside the museum, which speaks about the creation of the Waikato River. It is a  tale of a servant dog who cuts a pathway for the healing waters of Tongariro to reach an ailing Taupiri.

The sculpture’s waterfall represents the tongue of this dog in the story.

Oh FFS. It looks like someone nicked all the Cuisenaire rods from the local schools and glued them all together.




THANK YOU for being a subscriber. Because of you Whaleoil is going from strength to strength. It is a little known fact that Whaleoil subscribers are better in bed, good looking and highly intelligent. Sometimes all at once! Please Click Here Now to subscribe to an ad-free Whaleoil.

  • McGrath

    $700k for a large Lego statue? Someone must have been pork-barrelling it somewhere in the council.

    • biscuit barrel

      It was funded by donations, just hoping it wasnt a council group hidden there somewhere

      • Isherman

        LGOIA request perhaps to confirm or rule out if any ‘donors’ were Council funded groups or CCO’s?

        • biscuit barrel

          Yes I just looked up the group Mesh Sculpture- so you dont have to.
          Strategic partner – Hamilton City Council.
          The list of others using taxpayers money is
          waikato University $50k + , Hamilton west School ($1k)
          To be fair they have a lot of private givers and some of their other sculptures seem OK.

          • Isherman

            Speaking of other sculptures, the artist in question has done some in the past that I thought were interesting. “On first looking into Chapman’s Homer” and “The world Turns” were quite good pieces, but this particular one does nothing at all for me personally…as a through and through one eyed Waikato lad.

          • Mark

            The World Turns is excellent,this not so much.

  • lyall

    Were their many working dogs in NZ when the Waikato was cutting tracks or is this a post colonial legend?

  • Jax

    Not my cup of tea but hey as long as its not ratepayers or worse taxpayers money which it appears it is not – then all good people can waste their own money however they like.

    • Chris EM

      True, but it would be better displayed in a building or somewhere the public didn’t have to see it. It really is an eye sore.

  • shykiwibloke

    Looks like a tv test pattern to me. Perhaps a monument to when MSM was meaningful?

  • Petrus Calvus

    They ARE Cuisenaire rods. Please tell me it’s a Photoshopped picture. Otherwise the mickey really has been taken. Poor Hamilton.

  • Yeahright

    People in Hamilton must love Tetris……but by the looks of it cant play it very well.

  • Isherman

    Should have been a sculpture of Steven Donald lining up the RWC winning kick….just sayin.

  • MaryLou

    Well, it’s truly ugly, but I can’t say they’ve outdone Auckland Council, because they weren’t stupid enough to PAY FOR IT!

    Sorry, Auckland Council remain unchallenged.

  • Sideshow11

    Um. How does this tell a story , I’m not looking at it and thinking ” my god that’s how the waikato river came about ” I just thought the river came from thousands of years worth of water runoff . What I think of is Lego

    • jcpry

      A least the dog left us the wonderful land through Matamata when he changed the course of the river. Without this wonderful action we may not have the most productive dairy land in the world.

  • Usaywot

    Two issues here. He’s Maori so any rubbish he spouts about legends and what his art work represents is lapped up by people to scared to offend. And, secondly, if you spout rubbish confidently enough, especially in the art world, people are to scared that they may be showing their ignorance if they don’t take you seriously.

    • kereru

      Reminds me of the wonderful take-off of the pretentious blurbs descrbing artworks in the book ‘Why Cats Paint’ by Burton Silver. The most hilarious touchy-feely ones appear alongside so-called ‘installations’ such as the creatively shredded sofa arm and the imaginatively scratched frig door.

  • Abjv

    Someone needs to tell them that the flag design competition is over.

  • wanarunna

    speaking of Maori legend, has anyone heard what the official maori take is on the cause of the Canterbury earthquakes? They seem to have an explanation for all historic natural occurrences, most involving giants, giant fish or love-struck spirits masquerading as volcanoe.

  • Jman

    Hideous! Reminds me of the old TV test patterns Seems like art in this modern day, thanks to political correctness, has to be banal and meaningless.

  • Bert Piepoint

    Yesterday, SWMBO sent an email to the Cuisenaire company in the UK (http://www.cuisenaire.co.uk) just pointing out that the “sculpture” was being unveiled and did they know of its presence and has there been any royalty payments from the “Artist” – I wait with baited breath!

  • Graeme

    I thought maori ate thier dogs. This one must have been very lucky or fast on its feet.

  • Kiwi Sapper

    “……….the tongue of this dog…..” and a “……a servant dog who cuts a pathway for the healing waters of Tongariro to reach an ailing Taupiri…..”

    Oh PLEASE, “Dog ate my homework,” has more credence than this mumbo jumbo claptrap.

  • Wilbert

    How the hell did that cost $700,000..?

  • twittertit

    Hmmm i’ve been contemplating leaving engineering, but have been struggling to account for the pay grade change.

    Seems I should become an artist. $700k for stuff-all! I could produce one of these every 5 years and live a very comfortable life!

  • Nermal

    My definition of Arts v Crafts. If anyone could have made it, then it’s just craft. This could have been created by a pre-schooler, so it’s craft, not art.

  • rantykiwi

    This is done by the same self-important “artist” who is doing the Auckland house isn’t it?

  • Dan

    “People ignored the rain, taking a good walk around the structure, processing the colourful artwork after setting eyes on it for the first time.”

    Give me strength! I will ignore the novelette approach of the writer and declare what all that processing was:

    Front: Looks like cuisenare rods to me:
    Left side: Yep, cuisenaire
    Behind: Cannot be anything but cuisenare
    Right side: Definitely cuisenare

    Verdict: Cuisenaire, lock, stock and two smoking boxes of it.