Auckland’s Millennium Shaft

I love a good public art saga and of interest at the time was the fracas over the Millennium Tree.


In 2005 the Chinese community gifted a one hundred and fifty thousand dollar stylised chrome tree sculpture to Auckland City. It was plonked in the Parnell Rose Gardens to all the usual fanfare and everyone stood around congratulating themselves on their contribution to the “public space”.

All well and good, but Parnell-ians kicked up a fuss claiming they weren’t consulted and that the gleaming dong clashed with the Victorian style of the Gardens.

It finally found a home next to the Winter Gardens in the Domain where it still looks out of place.

As modern sculpture goes I think it truly belongs in the “meh” school of abstract representation. Having said that there’s much worst examples of public art in the city; that Pohutukawa thing down by Pitt Street enticing commuters to travel the stress-free motorways of Auckland for example.



10 Responses

  1. The problem is, I think, that the Millennium Tree pales in comparison to the real trees that surround it. I don’t know how it would have looked in the original site, but I suspect it would have stood out more, in a good way.

    By the way, the sculptor of the Millennium Tree is the work of Guy Ngan. He’s perhaps best known for the artworks he designed for many government buildings over the last few decades.

    As for the spiky red thing, well, it looks pretty at night.

    EDIT: This WordPress template ate my HTML! Hmm, perhaps we need a fancy new template.

  2. I rully rully like the Pohutakawa sculpture, to be honest. Is it widely hated? It’s probably just as well that I live in Wellington then…

  3. Personally i prefer Manukau’s Millenium sculpture to Auckland’s”:

  4. ManukauMum: I really like that sculpture too!

    It’s called Taonga Hiranga Whakanui Whanau (A gift to portray the importance of family) by Richard Shortland Cooper.

  5. I *love* the pohutukawa sculpture. But I have a very high tolerance for all pohutukawa representations, even cheesy magnets from Paihia.

  6. I don’t like the pohutukawa thing. It looks horrid. However, at night with the ends lit up it looks pretty. Sort of.

  7. I loved the “pohutukawa thing” until I realise it was a “pohutukawa thing”. (No, it wasn’t instantaneous.) I much preferred imagining it was some kind of unidentified thing, left behind by aliens who got lost on the western motorway.

  8. What was the name of the sculpture that was there before ‘Powhotikawa’?
    The twisting, pointed one- I liked it.
    – where did it go- who was it by?

  9. […] some famous artist and be tainted by the desire to pretend to know about art) dredged up an Aucklandista post from a few years ago which had much the same tone as this one, and the fact that this sculpture had made it on to the […]

  10. […] Auckland’s millenium shaft the Aucklandista finds out what happens when gifts of art aren’t so pleasing. […]

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