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Taupo District councillors approve first pieces of art on new sculpture trail

The first two pieces of art to be installed at Taupō’s new sculpture trail have been approved by councillors.

The council does not choose the sculptures – that is the job of the Taupō Sculpture Trust, but it does have to approve their installation. Council also set aside $100,000 in its 2018-28 Long-term Plan towards a destination sculpture, if the sculpture trust could raise the same amount, which it has.

The trust has identified Riverside Park as an ideal location for a sculpture trail and wants to begin by installing Flip, an existing sculpture which used to be at the former Colonel Roberts Reserve in Taupō. The other piece on the trail will be a new destination sculpture, referred to as Boom Boom, which would be specially commissioned for this site.

During today’s meeting, councillors discussed the importance of honouring previous commitments while also looking to keep costs down.

Councillor Christine Rankin said it was a difficult decision, bearing in mind the financial position council is currently in.

“We have to find a balance in the future funding of arts but we have made this commitment. Business in this town and district is based on visitors. I know it will be controversial at first but I believe this project will help attract many thousands of visitors,” she said.

Councillor Anna Park said she appreciated the work that had gone into the project, but the commitments made previously were before “a pandemic and cost of living being out the gate”.

“I support installing Flip and I support the sculpture trail, but not the $100,000 right now,” she said.

Councillor Rachel Shepherd said: “I’ve been torn by this decision and as a new first-term councillor this is a historic decision. If it was to come out of our budget that we’re working on I’d be a no.

“A lot of effort has gone into getting to this point. Arts don’t get a lot of funding; this isn’t new and, on that basis, I’ll support it.”

Councillor Sandra Greenslade said the decision had put councillors in “a very difficult position”.

“I struggle to oppose this but I will on the grounds that times have changed. We are different councillors and this is something the community might not thank us for. “

The installation of the destination sculpture was approved by the council, with councillors Park and Greenslade voting against it due to current cost of living pressures and financial constraints. The installation of Flip was approved unanimously.


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