One of New Zealand’s Most Extraordinary Artworks

The Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings on Lake Taupo have been hailed as one of New Zealand’s most extraordinary artworks. Towering 14-metres above the deep water of Lake Taupo, the carvings have become one of the North Island’s biggest tourist attractions.

Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings, Lake Taupo

When traditional marae-taught carver Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell paddled past a rock alcove on Lake Taupo in 1976, he had a vision of a tattooed face. His grandmother, Te Huatahi Susie Gilbert of Ngati Rauhoto, Ngati Tuwharetoa, Ngati Maiotaki and Ngati Whakaue, had asked the young carver to create a likeness of her ancestor Ngatoroirangi on a totara tree to create a permanent connection for her family to the land. When Matahi arrived in Taupo there was no totara tree to carve so he journeyed onto the lake for inspiration.

The rock alcove at Mine Bay became the canvas for one of the most extraordinary contemporary artworks New Zealand has ever seen. Sculpted over the course of four years and completed in 1980, Matahi led a team of four artists, Jono Randell, Te Miringa Hohaia, Dave Hegglun and Steve Myhre, to create a spectacular carving of Ngatoroirangi on the rock face.

The Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings are accessible by boat only, and can be reached by taking a scenic cruise or sailing trip from Taupo Boat Harbour for under $50. The team at the Taupo i-SITE take bookings and are open seven days a week.

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