30 October 2015

New Zealand’s largest sculpture - made from road barrier

New Zealand’s newest stretch of state highway - the Tauranga Eastern Link (TEL) - was opened to traffic in August by New Zealand Transport Agency. The brand new 21km, four-lane highway is not only the longest highway in New Zealand, but features a 130m long ‘pÄ’ sculpture which is said to be the largest public artwork on display in the country. The huge sculpture is one of two artworks created by renowned New Zealand artist Regan Gentry. It is entitled Bound Around and was constructed using materials used on New Zealand roads – safety barrier and lighting columns – supplied by CSP.

“My brief from the New Zealand Transport Agency was to design artworks that would help make the TEL a road to remember for travellers and have a connection to the land,” explains Regan. “It had to be something that could easily be seen when traveling at 100kms an hour and, with plenty of space, it had to be big.”

“When I originally stood on the site I could see the hills in the Papamoa Regional Park behind and could visualise where villages had once been. I wanted the sculpture to have a connection with the historic ‘Te Rae O Papamoa’, which was a massive historic pÄ complex that once housed 5,000 Maori in pre-colonial times. The ‘pÄ’ sculpture formed in my head. The rings loosely mimic the landform patterns of a ‘pÄ’ site or the contour lines of an imagined mountain. I submitted my design to the Transport Agency who really liked it and it was approved.”

Regan explains that originally there was going to be more than one pÄ sculpture, but because the new highway was also close to the sea, the Transport Agency asked Regan to produce a concept to reflect this. Regan’s nine metre high ‘spinifex’ concept references the beach and the wind-blown coastal plants that are a feature of the Papamoa beachscape which runs parallel to TEL. This also received the thumbs up from the Transport Agency and planning began.

“When I was considering materials to use for my ideas I wanted them to have a link to the road itself, so I decided on barrier for the ‘pÄ’ and columns for the ‘spinifex’,” adds Reagan. “I had seen a twisted piece of road barrier and that became my inspiration for the ‘pÄ’. ”

Regan had previously worked with CSP on a sculpture called Flour Power for the Christchurch City Council back in 2007 - which had been a huge success - and he had no hesitation in contacting them again to help with his new creations.

“It was about an 18 month process from the time Regan first called to say he was involved with these sculptures to their installation,” explains Lawrence Amos, Product Support Engineer for CSP. “We helped with initial plans and costings, which were amended several times. It also took some time for the project to be approved for funding. So it wasn’t a quick process but certainly worth the wait. Both sculptures look amazing. We were very happy to be involved once again in helping Regan bring his plans to life.”

“I had a great experience working with CSP on the Flour Power project so I knew they would be easy to work with again,” adds Regan. “Lawrence has been great. It was quite involved getting all the curved sections of rail to fit together. They did a great job - as I knew they would.”

“It has been a blast to create and I have loved the whole project. It has been really exciting to do something on this scale; it’s a bit of a boy’s dream for me and it looks great.”

The Tauranga Eastern Link

The $450 million Tauranga Eastern Link is the second of seven Roads of National Significance (RoNS) based around New Zealand's five largest population centres to be fully completed, following Auckland’s Victoria Park Tunnel in 2011. The RoNS have been identified by Government as key projects for moving people and freight between and within these centres more safely and efficiently. TEL has been designed to support the growth of the Bay of Plenty, reduce travel times and improve safety. The project involved 550,000m² of new road, more than three million m³ of earthworks and saw seven new bridges built. All up there were more than 1.5 million hours worked.