Made from hundreds of shimmering crystals, Reuben Paterson’s (Ngāti Rangitihi, Ngāi Tūhoe, Tūhourangi) Guide Kaiārahi is a ten-metre-high waka rising vertically from the Gallery’s forecourt pool

Crafted from an array of glistening crystals, Reuben Paterson’s (Ngāti Rangitihi, Ngāi Tūhoe, Tūhourangi) masterpiece, Guide Kaiārahi, stands proudly as a majestic vertical waka, soaring to a height of ten meters above the forecourt pool of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki.

This extraordinary sculpture, comprising 595 iridescent crystals, was brought to life through a collaboration between Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, the Edmiston Trust, and the brilliant mind of Reuben Paterson. It embarks on a breathtaking journey, symbolically moving from Papatūānuku into the embrace of Ranginui, bestowing a celestial display of stars upon the pool.

The concept behind this crystalline marvel draws its inspiration from the renowned legend of a spectral waka that materialized on Lake Tarawera just ten days before the eruption of Mt. Tarawera in 1886.

Hovering gracefully above the gallery’s forecourt pool, like a vertical compass needle, this magnificent waka serves as a beacon, pointing the way to realms beyond our earthly existence. It also pays homage to the ancient navigators who relied on the stars to traverse the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean on their journey to Aotearoa.

In a harmonious fusion of references to the natural and supernatural realms, Guide Kaiārahi draws deeply from Māori cosmology and creation narratives. It carries a personal resonance for Paterson as well, as his Ngāti Rangitihi kaumātua refer to their iwi, descendants of the Te Arawa waka of the Bay of Plenty, as ‘Te Heketanga-a-rangi’—those who descend from the celestial heavens—honoring their ancestors like Ohomairangi.

Guide Kaiārahi came to fruition with the invaluable support of the Edmiston Trust.

In August 2023, Reuben Paterson’s Guide Kaiārahi sculpture will temporarily be removed from the forecourt to ensure its preservation during Auckland Art Gallery’s Kia Whakahou, Kia Whakaora Heritage Restoration Project. The sculpture is expected to return to its rightful place in late 2025.

Targetti Lighting was entrusted by Auckland Art Gallery and Reuben Paterson to contribute to the lighting design and commissioning of Guide Kaiārahi. Collaborating closely with Reuben and the UAP and Auckland Art Gallery teams, we worked diligently to bring the original vision to life. It has been a pleasure to be a part of this project, and we take pride in the final result.
Artist: Reuben Paterson
Location: Auckland Art Gallery
Craftsman: UAP
Lighting Design: Targetti NZ
Images: NZ Herald, David St George, Jos Wheeler

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