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Greytown’s new sculpture

By Chelsea Boyle

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Greytown’s Stella Bull Park gained a new arty addition in the early hours of Friday morning when a massive steel sculpture of the iconic cabbage tree was erected on the Main St frontage of the park.

Carterton sculptor Niko Thomsen had crafted the work that cost about $40,000, alongside his young son Lucas, who goes to Dalefield school.

The youngster helped with the beetles which add subtle detail to the five-metre tall cabbage tree’s trunk.

The artist, who worked as a prop maker for Lord of the Rings in 1999, said he was speechless to see his vision take hold.

“I don’t have words for it. It’s the biggest thing I have ever made in my life.”

Mr Thomsen was approached three years ago by the Friends of Stella and Sarah group to make the cabbage tree.

Lucas Thomsen, Jan Eagle and Niko Thomsen in front of the sculpture they believe embodies the spirit of Stella Bull Park. PHOTO/CHELSEA BOYLE
Lucas Thomsen, Jan Eagle and Niko Thomsen in front of the sculpture they believe embodies the spirit of Stella Bull Park. PHOTO/CHELSEA BOYLE

The group chose the cabbage tree – ti kouka – because of its significance as a food source to early Maori, and to celebrate Greytown as the Arbour Town of New Zealand.

“It really impressed me how the community works here in New Zealand,” Mr Thomsen said.

The community really pulled together for this piece, it was not government funded, he said.

Jan Eagle, of the Friends of Stella and Sarah, said the sculpture acknowledged the park’s history perfectly.

The cabbage tree was such an important resource to settlers and early Maori, she said. It provided rope, food, and fishing nets.

“It was like a supermarket — it was a one-stop shop.”

Mrs Eagle said the community had backed the cabbage tree sculpture.

“Without the community we wouldn’t have had it.”

She said families and business had rallied to support the project.

Her late mother, Stella Bull, would have been “rapt” to see the sculpture, she said.

Mrs Eagle was filled with praise for the artist who had brought the sculpture to life.

“Every single part of it was handmade by Niko, every nut and bolt.

“He has done it from the heart, and that makes all the difference.”

The South Wairarapa District Council will organise a blessing for the new sculpture.

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