Myers Park: Myers Park Sculptures

Myers Park Sculptures



The Stone Lions:

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Stone Lions

In 1922 the Nathan Family offered a pair of Stone Lions to be used as entrance features for the new park.

These had stood outside St Kevens House since the 1840s when Sir George Grey had used the house as Government House.

They may have been the first European Sculptures brought to New Zealand - it is possible they came out from Britain but more likely they were created in Australia.

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St Kevens with Lions 1840s

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Myers Park was intended by its creators as primarily a children's realm with the emphasis on natural plants and sunshine.

For this reason artworks were not a priority and may even have been seen as working against the aesthetic and moral intent of the park.

This may have been why the Lions were rejected in 1922.

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Stone Lions at front door

However the terms of the gift may have been a contributing factor.

The Nathans apparently stipulated that the statues be located at the Karangahape Road entrance to the Park, but by 1922 that site was not actually public land.

The right-of-way gifted by the Nathans in 1918 meant the building constructed on that site needed to allow access from the street to the park (as indeed St Kevins Arcade does).

The legal complications of Council imposing the statues on the new property owners were probably too great.

In any event they were not installed and their subsequent fate is unknown.

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The Statue of Moses:

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MOSES 1971

The statue of Moses was the first sculpture to be installed in Myers Park - that happened in 1973.

In 1971 the Milne & Choyce Department Store celebrated the Centenary of the firm - part of the decorations of the Queen Street store had been two marble statues imported from Italy.

Both were full scale copies in marble of the work of Michelangelo Buonarroti 1475-1564, being his famous David and Moses.

They were made from marble from the same quarry as the originals.

After the celebrations the statues were offered to the City of Auckland, but neither the Art Gallery nor the Museum were interested.

The City declined the Statue of David but accepted the Moses and installed it in Myers Park at the base of the stairs leading from St Kevins Arcade.

For an explanation of the symbolism of the Moses please see this entry. Moses

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The Statue of David:

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David in Milne & Choyce's store on Queen Street in 1971.

The city declined to accept this sculpture and what happened to it is unclear.

These sculptures evoke the 'Refined Good Taste' of the 19th century when the Italian Renaissance was very popular.

In order to show they appreciated "good art" many people displayed reduced copies of sculptures such as this in their parlours.

It also is representative of the renewed interest in Michaelangelo's work in the period following the Second World War.

In 1961 The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone was published - this was a biographical novel of the life of Michelangelo Buonarroti and became one of the most popular books of the period.

In 1965 the novel was made into a major motion picture; The Agony and the Ecstasy, starring Charlton Heston as Michelangelo and Rex Harrison as Pope Julius II.

These were undoubtedly contributing reasons as to why the Florentine Sculpture Yard started to create full scale copies of Michelangelo's major works.

Apparently three pairs were created in 1966: one pair stayed at the Statue Factory in Florence, one pair was sold to Forest Lawn Cemetery in Los Angeles and the third pair was purchased by Milne & Choyce of Auckland.

In November 1969 a poster showing the statue of David on display in a Bookshop in Sydney was seized by officers of the Vice Squad and the owner threated with charges until the Director of the New South Wales Art Gallery managed to intervene.

In January 1970 a photograph of the David was part of another prosecution for selling indecent publications in the same city.

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The Five Goats:

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“FIVE GOATS" 1999

In 1999 Auckland's sister city Guangzhou presented the City with a granite statuary group of Five Goats.

Guangzhou [Canton] is known as the Five Goats City.

The Myers Park Statue is a reduced copy of the the sculpture located in the west part of Yiexiu Park in central Guangzhou, the original was erected in 1959.

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Five Goats Yiexiu Park, Guangzhou.

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Auckland became a sister city with Guangzhou on February 17th, 1989

The placement of the granite group in Myers Park recalls the longstanding presence of the Chinese in the area, although it does not specifically commemorate the connection.

For the first half of the 20th century there were a number of Chinese living and working in the Greys Avenue / Cook Street / Hobson Street areas.

The group is symbolic of the contribution of the Chinese Community to New Zealand since 1864 and it is made of chinese granite to underline the enduring quality of this work.

It is a representation of a traditional Chinese story;

'A herd of goats discover a bleak valley and survive eating the rough vegetation. Their feeding prunes the spiny plants and their droppings manure the soil. Contained in their droppings are the seeds of plants from outside the valley. Over a period of time the valley is transformed into a fertile place due to their quiet diligent activity.'

Prior to the Communist Revolution in 1949 all chinese immigrating to New Zealand came from the Guangdong province directly to the north of the cities of Hong Kong & Canton.

Guangzhou is often referred to as “The Five Goats City". Legend has it that 5 celestial beings brought 5 goats into Guangzhou.

The goats were all carrying rice, which symbolized that they would make sure that the area would always be free of famine.

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Hau te Kapaka “The Flapping Wind"

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Hau te Kapaka “The Flapping Wind"

In 2011 the first two of three bronze items by Rachel Walters were installed at the Queen Street entrance to the park.

Hau te Kapaka “The Flapping Wind" comments on the effects of pollution and human activity on the natural world and wildlife.

Their small scale and humour are specifically intended to attract the engagement of children.

The third piece was installed in 2013.

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Hau te Kapaka “The Flapping Wind"