Surfing sculpture proposed for Roberts Road

Statue would represent three generations of surfers and three eras of surfing

Statue would represent three generations of surfers and three eras of surfing

An impression of what the sculpture would look like. Designed by Gisborne man and keen surfer Paulus McKinnon, the plate steel statue would be located at Roberts Road — the “birthplace” of surfing in Gisborne — and connect with and complement the Oneroa walkway and cycleway. Picture supplied

GISBORNE’S leading role in the history of New Zealand surfing could be represented in a sculpture at Roberts Road, the birthplace of the sport in this district.

Gisborne District Council favourably received an outline of the project yesterday after a presentation from organising group member Gail Patty, fellow surfer and Gisborne district councillor Amber Dunn and sculpture designer Paulus McKinnon.

Gail Patty said it was the summer of 1962 when she first experienced the thrill of riding on a surfboard.

“Over 50 years have passed since then and it’s fantastic to see three generations of families romping in the waves together.”

For the past two years she had made it a project to have a sculpture erected at Roberts Road, along with storytelling for visitors to learn about New Zealand’s No 1 surfing lifestyle district and to “ensure our story is told for future generations,” she said.

Three generations of surfers

Amber Dunn said an example of three generations was the family of John Logan. There had also been three eras of surfboard design in that time. For the surfer lifestyle, the ocean was their background and their favourite playground.

Roberts Road was chosen because wherever you were standing to view the statue there was a panoramic background such as Tuamotu Island, a world-class surf break or Te Kuri a Paoa (Young Nicks Head). They wanted it to be interactive and to connect with and complement the existing walkway.

For the Navigations Project and Te Ha commemorations, surfboards were their waka.

The whole surfing industry was on board. They had spoken to Roberts Road residents and the response was favourable.

They also spoke with designer Derek Lardelli about complementing the Oneroa walkway, and with Rongowhakaata.

Paulis McKinnon said the statue would be built with 12-millimetre plate steel that would rust naturally in the environment. This was a natural material and had a relationship to the nearby port as well.

As outlines, the surfboards they would be fairly transparent so they would not be blocking the view.

“It will be a constantly shifting viewpoint so you never get the same view of the sculpture as you walk around it,” he said. “The shapes will sort of move in relationship to each other.”

As well as the statue representing the three generations of surfers, the three boards represented three different eras of surfing — the 50s, 60s to 80s, and current days.

Mayor Meng Foon said as was the process, the arts in public places committee would bring this project proposal to the council.

GISBORNE’S leading role in the history of New Zealand surfing could be represented in a sculpture at Roberts Road, the birthplace of the sport in this district.

Gisborne District Council favourably received an outline of the project yesterday after a presentation from organising group member Gail Patty, fellow surfer and Gisborne district councillor Amber Dunn and sculpture designer Paulus McKinnon.

Gail Patty said it was the summer of 1962 when she first experienced the thrill of riding on a surfboard.

“Over 50 years have passed since then and it’s fantastic to see three generations of families romping in the waves together.”

For the past two years she had made it a project to have a sculpture erected at Roberts Road, along with storytelling for visitors to learn about New Zealand’s No 1 surfing lifestyle district and to “ensure our story is told for future generations,” she said.

Three generations of surfers

Amber Dunn said an example of three generations was the family of John Logan. There had also been three eras of surfboard design in that time. For the surfer lifestyle, the ocean was their background and their favourite playground.

Roberts Road was chosen because wherever you were standing to view the statue there was a panoramic background such as Tuamotu Island, a world-class surf break or Te Kuri a Paoa (Young Nicks Head). They wanted it to be interactive and to connect with and complement the existing walkway.

For the Navigations Project and Te Ha commemorations, surfboards were their waka.

The whole surfing industry was on board. They had spoken to Roberts Road residents and the response was favourable.

They also spoke with designer Derek Lardelli about complementing the Oneroa walkway, and with Rongowhakaata.

Paulis McKinnon said the statue would be built with 12-millimetre plate steel that would rust naturally in the environment. This was a natural material and had a relationship to the nearby port as well.

As outlines, the surfboards they would be fairly transparent so they would not be blocking the view.

“It will be a constantly shifting viewpoint so you never get the same view of the sculpture as you walk around it,” he said. “The shapes will sort of move in relationship to each other.”

As well as the statue representing the three generations of surfers, the three boards represented three different eras of surfing — the 50s, 60s to 80s, and current days.

Mayor Meng Foon said as was the process, the arts in public places committee would bring this project proposal to the council.

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John Drummond (GDC candidate) - 3 years ago
Excellent idea! I applaud Gail, Amber and Paulus for this initiative. Surfing has been, is, and shall always be a rich part of Gisborne's sporting history. Not only is surfing a sporting pursuit but the friendships and comradery that it creates among local Gisborne surfers is known around the country. I've surfed here for 45 years and am always stoked when I see great Gizzy waves - but equally happy when I see parents and their kids hitting the surf as a family and other surfers hooting the kids on as they catch a wave. May the statue help inspire many future generations to share the aroha at our pristine beaches...

Mark Peters - 3 years ago
A public artwork to mark Gisborne surfing history at the Roberts Road surf location has long been surfing pioneer Gail Patty's passion. That Gisborne District Council is receptive to such a proposal is heartening news.
We have seen one submission. Now the door has been opened, could the GDC and/or Art in Public Places Committee please call for a range of submissions?
The Roberts Road design should, at the very least, embody the sense of surfing's golden age in Turanganui a Kiwa - Poverty Bay when legends like Allan Byrne, Gail and Joan Patty and Benny Hutchings carved paths in the iconic surf location's waves.
The parameters are fairly elastic but designs need to work from a distance and close up.
They should relate to the physical and cultural identity of the region.
As with all good architecture, art and engineering, their aesthetic should renew itself on repeated visits.
Graeme Mudge achieved this with wit and energy in his Birth of Venus/Gisborne triathlon-themed frieze on the the Eastland Triathlon and Multi Sport Club gear shed in Beacon Reserve.
The red boat overgrown with red waving rods and beached by Waikanae Stream is both mildly kinetic and mysterious, as is one of the city's most interesting public art pieces tucked away in an odd corner in the Botanical Gardens under the Roebuck Road bridge.
The pou installed in Kelvin Park charge the air around them while the public seat Matariki Solomon carved from swamp totara installed at the bottom of Roberts Road is an understated masterwork.
Artists Drew Hill and Brett Crockett also pointed the way to a future of engaging public artwork with their Plexiglas cloak outside Kathmandu. Inscribed with biomorphic patterns and islands, and beautifully lit at night, Guardian - Te Tairawhiti constantly renews itself.
The tones, textures, materials and aesthetic of a surfing history-themed sculpture at Roberts Road need to key with those of the Oneroa walkway and its bespoke furniture. The GDC's insistence the rebuilt Waikanae Surf Life Saving Club does this met with some initial resistance but insistence paid off.
A steel artwork by the beach might withstand salty gales, sole-searing sun and ball-bearing rain, but the material seems at odds with the spirit of surfing.
A patina of rust on an ironwork sculpture by the sea would connect, not only with the port, but the russet moa at the entrance to Jukes rock and metal suppliers in Stanley Road.
Gisborne has its share of public art banalities but under Mayor Meng Foon's and GDC chief executive Judy Campbell's watch, the GDC has pulled off some magnificent achievements. Among them are the War Memorial Theatre rebuild, the Oneroa walkway, the town clock's new livery and lighting design, the Kelvin Park installation, and a design concept that refocuses the city on sea, river and maunga.
With those achievements in architecture, engineering and design, the bar has been raised.
Let's keep raising it.

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