New Zealand High Commission Canberra, Australia

Works of art

The Chancery has on display in its public areas several fine examples of the work of New Zealand artists.

Above the Reception desk in the main foyer hangs Te Aka Aorere (the Aorere network). Carved by master carver Albert Te Pou (Ngai Tuhoe) of Rotorua, this piece depicts Aorere (the central figure) which is the Maori figurehead of the High Commission. The stylised human forms to each side of the Aorere represent the two nations, New Zealand to the left and Australia to the right, working together for a common cause. Carved in the traditional Ngati Raukawa style, the surface decoration represents the various strands of the High Commission operations, they are tied together by the associated cuts, which represent the actions of the staff. The lintel is deliberately stylised, as Maori believe that the beauty of the human form can only be created by the Supreme Being. The timber is Totara (podcarpus ralfii) and the eyes are paua shell (abalone or Haiotis iris).

Situated on the rear lawn of the Chancery, in the shadows of the trees on the Chancery’s boundary with the British High Commission, is Tanya Asken’s bronze sculpture Seabird V. Seabird V was commissioned for this site and unveiled in 1975. The sculpture is number ‘V’ because the artist felt the bird might be associated with some of her earlier works. She has said: “I feel the effects of things like birds and the sea in my work, although the finished sculpture has an abstract exterior." The artist chose the location of Seabird within the shadows of the trees so that the dappled play of light would create an effect of the bird walking across the lawn.

Cows, a Jeff Thomson work, graze upon the lawns directly at the rear of the Chancery building. The corrugated iron sculptures were first displayed in a local festival in Canberra in 1987. The festival organisers told the High Commissioner that the Thomson pieces had provided one of the highlights of the festival and were subsequently put in place on the lawns at the rear of the Chancery, attracting positive comment from tourists and art lovers alike.

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