Made from hundreds of crystals, a new artwork has made its debut at Auckland Art Gallery for Matariki.
A shimmering 10-metre waka, by artist Reuben Paterson, was revealed this week in a grand opening.
Paterson says the sculpture is made of 611 iridescent crystals and "navigates a spectacular journey from Papatūānuku into the embrace of Ranginui and will cast a galaxy of stars over the pool".
The crystal waka, when lit up at night, illuminates the gallery in rainbow refractions, and by floating the waka above the gallery pool, it appears magical, Paterson says.
He says his inspiration for the crystalline sculpture originated in the well-known legend of a phantom waka that appeared at Lake Tarawera 10 days before the eruption of Mt Tarawera in 1886.
"In the early hours of 10 June 1886, our ancestral mountains Wāhanga, Ruawāhia and Tarawera split apart, spewing forth millions of tonnes of ash and debris," Paterson says.
Combining references to natural and supernatural realms, the sculpture draws upon Māori cosmology and creation narratives.
It also has as a personal resonance for Paterson as his Ngāti Rangithi kaumātua describe their iwi, who descend from the Te Arawa waka of the Bay of Plenty, as ‘Te Heketanga-a-rangi’, those who descend from the celestial heavens, in reference to their tūpuna, Ohomairangi.
This unique piece of artwork is a masterpiece reflection of Paterson's career-long fascination with the scientific, material and metaphysical properties of light.
The grand piece will be greeting visitors to the Auckland Art Gallery for years to come.