101 reasons to visit NZ Sculpture Onshore

There are so many reasons to visit  NZ Sculpture Onshore that I don’t know where to start.

There’s great pride in knowing that NZ has so many talented artists, established and emerging. There’s the spectacular location looking across the Hauraki Gulf to Rangitoto Island. There’s the financial support that NZ Sculpture OnShore gives to New Zealand Women’s Refuges through gate sales and sales of the sculptures on display – over NZ$1.34 million since 1994.

But most of all, there are the sculptures themselves. They are placed thoughtfully in groups looking out across the water, positioned in and under trees, hidden in concrete bunkers and gun emplacements, and sprinkled on grassy slopes. There are 100 pieces, each one stunning, some surprising and more than a few extremely covetable.

Standing in front of 6000 multicoloured plastic lunch boxes suspended in a grove of trees, I overheard an agitated woman exclaim that she “just didn’t understand how it was art”.  She may not have appreciated this particular burst of creativity  but the installation she was talking about, like many of the others, provokes, stimulates and challenges.  Isn’t that what art should do?

6000 school lunch boxes represent 7% of the total number of children who go to school hungry every day.

Feed The Kids Too: 6000 school lunch boxes represent 7% of the total number of children who go to school hungry every day.

I liked the plastic lunchboxes.  6000 are suspended in a row of giant trees to help us visualise how many children go to school hungry everyday in NZ (they represent 7% of the total number). The lunchboxes are for sale and when the exhibition is finished, they will be taken down, filled and given to children who are hungry. If that’s not impressive enough, standing among the trees listening to lunch boxes singing in the wind is magical. Maybe the agitated women didn’t understand, or maybe she didn’t care.


There are huge stand alone sculptures – abstract towers that defy gravity, a sea lion, a daffodil-yellow flower made of plastic buckets, a warhorse, a tiger, a humpback whale –  art made from light and sound, tiny intricate works, and art to touch and sit on and climb over. Of course there will be favourites. I loved the smooth abstract curves of two jet black huia birds, the cleverness of Autumn Dimensions (is it 3-dimensional or not?) and the brilliant colours of the children’s exhibition in its special place in the underground fort and I couldn’t stop taking photographs of Blooming Buckets, the best use of plastic buckets ever!

NZ Sculpture Onshore is held every year in the historic Fort Takapuna reserve. And that’s another reason to visit. It’s a photogenic spot with a cafe open on Sundays for brunch.

Fort Takapuna (not to be mistaken for the other Takapuna known for it’s cafes, beach and market) was a lookout point and bunker defence site since 1886. The fort is below ground level as there used to be a dry moat running round it on all sides with a drawbridge to provide access (as all self respecting forts should have). The remaining barracks, tunnels and gun pits are open to explore.

Categories: New Zealand

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