Te Haa o te Ao “The Breath of the World”

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Te Haa o Te Ao (The Breath of the World) is a proposed entranceway sculpture into Kerikeri, Waipapa and surrounding Bay of Islands which Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Rēhia have invited me to design. The aim of the sculpture is to raise awareness in locals and visitors about the greatest threat humanity is facing today: climate change.

Te Haa o Te Ao will be 10m tall with 55 locally sourced boulders simulating Poi* that are suspended from a central Pou by stainless steel cables.  The cables will reflect the light of the sun and make music with the wind.

The Pou will be topped by a sculpture by Tuauahiroa Hei Hei made of cast metal in the form of the heads of three native birds, the kāhu (hawk) facing southwards towards oncoming traffic, the tūī facing west into the bush and the kāwau (shag) facing seawards.

With a winch, the collar over the wires can be moved up and down, causing the Poi (boulders) to rise “like a bird’s wing”. The sculpture being under high tension means that we are in a state of conflict with the environment.

Te Haa o te Ao - tension, Chris Booth, artist's diary

This is not a scientific instrument – it is a work of art.  It is just like music – by playing certain notes, one can vary the mood from peaceful to high tension.  So by moving the Poi the viewer’s visual response changes from peaceful to high tension.  It therefore reflects the efforts we are making in combating climate change.”

The sculpture will be

  • a meaningful and powerful greeting to everyone passing through this gateway
  • an artistic, responsive warning signal to humanity about the state of the environment vis-à-vis climate change
  • an opportunity for a local school’s social and scientific involvement to monitor the well-being of the local environment
  • a challenge to tackle human effects on the climate and on the environment and people’s engagement with it  – a collaborative project by Māori and Pākehā, young and old, individuals and businesses
  • an environmentally inspired thought provoking icon to be visited, contemplated and talked about.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Rēhia, Transit NZ, FNDC, Oxford Trust, Rotary and Lions (Waipapa and Kerikeri), Probus, Vision Kerikeri, Aroha Island Charitable Trust, Living Waters and numerous individuals have expressed their support for the project.  Fund raising is still ongoing to enable the completion of the project and to add nightly illumination by solar power.