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Public art

Supporting public art has become a part of Hamilton city's culture and identity.

Working together with other units within Hamilton City Council, Waikato Museum is responsible for the conservation and care of these works.


Public art in the central city

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Tongue of the Dog

Conceived by sculptor Michael Parekōwhai, Tongue of the Dog was gifted to the city by MESH Sculpture Hamilton in 2016.

The 8 metre tall sculpture represents the creation legend of the Waikato River, in which a servant dog cuts a pathway for the healing waters of Tongariro to reach an ailing Taupiri.

The colourful blocks reference Cuisenaire rods, an educational tool originally designed to teach maths and now also used to teach te reo Maaori.

Find out more here: Tongue of the Dog - MESH Sculpture Hamilton website

Image credit: Mark Hamilton



Tekoteko and Maihi carvings

These taonga were installed in 1987 when the new museum building opened.

The tekoteko and maihi wood carvings are located on the Waikato Museum roof, on the river bank side of the building.


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Joan Fear, Campbell Smith

Inset into the wall of the ArtsPost building on Victoria Street are a series of etched and sculpted terracotta tiles.

A collaboration by two prominent Hamilton artists, the tiles depict different styles of art and feature three New Zealand women artists - Ida Carey, Frances Hodgkins and Margot Phillips. 


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Riff Raff

This life-size cast bronze sculpture of Riff Raff, a character in The Rocky Horror Show, is usually located in Embassy Park, Victoria Street. The sculpture has been temporarily relocated in the forecourt of Waikato Museum while the Waikato Regional Museum is under construction.

It celebrates the international success of Richard O'Brien who created the cult musical and played the role of Riff Raff in the film version made in 1975. O'Brien's development in theatre began here in Hamilton, where he spent some of his childhood.

Made by Weta Workshop, the sculpture was unveiled in 2004. The Riff Raff camera, which streams a view of the site, can be viewed via




Sapper Moore-Jones

A commemorative public artwork by Hon Captain Matt Gauldie, unveiled 27th March 2015 for the centenary of the Gallipoli conflict.

This bronze statue depicts renowned military artist Moore-Jones in the midst of sketching.

The figure is kneeling on a seven-tonne slab cut from the battlefields of Gallipoli. The stone was gifted and transported to Hamilton by the Turkish Government and the City of Çanakkale through the efforts of Turkish Ambassador Damla Yeşim Say.



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Te Tiaho O Matariki

Neil Miller

Located in Garden Place, 'Te Tiaho O Matariki' is a sculptural manifestation of the Pleiades in the form of a growing vine. The stars of Matariki appear as the fruit on this extraordinary plant. The sculpture is a sign of growth, unity, and continuity.


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The Farming Family

Margriet Windhausen

Located on the corner of Ulster and Victoria Streets (southern end), the characters of this cast bronze sculpture are life-size figures of a male farmer and his wife, their two children, a cow, a sheep and a dog. This work commemorates the ordinary farming family as being iconic in the Waikato region.


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Life in the Waikato Te Noho | Te Rohe O Waikato

Waikato Woodcarvers

Located in the reception of the Hamilton City Council Municipal Building, the wood for these 12 carved panels originated from a Plane tree that was planted in Grey Street (Hamilton East) by George Mason in 1875, and felled in 1981. Depicting the Hamilton City Council coat of arms, aspects of Waikato industry, agriculture and leisure, this artwork reflects elements of the Waikato lifestyle.


Paul Johnson

Structure and Erosion

Paul Johnson

Located in the reception lounge foyer of the Hamilton City Council Municipal Building, a series of handcrafted terracotta and stoneware tiles are positioned to form a large mural that flows down the stairwell wall. The artwork uses the natural behaviour of clay, both fired and unfired, as a metaphor for the Council's task of providing physical and social order within a tendency for dissolution and chaos.


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Library Mural

Lynda Harris

Hand-painted ceramic tiles depicting landscape scenes wrap around the entrance pillars to the Hamilton Central Library, Garden Place. Scenes and images from the Waikato, including rivers, lakes, birds, form narratives of the environment. This artwork was commissioned for the opening of the library building.



Public art around Hamilton

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Te Ohomauri O Matariki | The Awakening Lifeforce of Matariki

Dion Hitchens

Seven vertical waka placed in the formation of the Kingitanga symbol of the Matariki star constellation, standing firm in the Borman Road, Resolution Drive roundabout.



Te Pumanawa O Te Whenua | Beat Connection

Seung Yul Oh

Te Pumanawa O Te Whenua | Beat Connection  runs like a heartbeat graph along the grass outside the Claudlands Event Centre. The role the event centre has in bringing sports, concerts, and conventions to the city, relates to this work, as the excitement and emotions we experience internally are often reflected physically by our heartbeats.



Te Waharoa ki te Ao Maarama | The Entranceway to the World of Enlightenment

Lonnie Hutchinson

Located on Lake Domain Reserve, corner of Pembroke and Ruakiwi Roads, this artwork refers to the historical significance of the site, and the importance of its ongoing conservation and care.


Little Bull

Little Bull

Molly Macalister

Located in the Hamilton Gardens (near Gate 2), Little Bull could be seen as a symbol of the Waikato's link to te dairy industry and agricultural splendour. But mostly the artist wanted to make an artwork that encouraged tactile engagement.


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Hamilton Gardens Mural

Derek Kerwood and Megan Godfrey

The large mural was carved from a Camphor laurel (Cinnimomum camphora) tree, which had been felled in Grey Street in Hamilton East. The artists were inspired by the Hamilton Gardens and decided to make and donate a carving specifically for this site.


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Pou Carving

Wiremu Puke

As visitors enter the grassed and planted area nestled by the river on Moripiko Reserve, 339 River Road, a towering pou visually commands attention. Miropiko's carved pou portrays key ancestral high chiefs of Ngāti Wairere and their related hapū, Ngāti Hānui and Ngāti Koura. These chiefs, who once occupied Miropiko Pā, are commemorated in the ancient carving patterns painted with kokowai. 


Pou Whakare 'Hoera'

Wiremu Puke

This Pou Whakare is entitled Hoera – after Hoera Taonui, the last Ngaati Wairere chief to live at Kirikiriroa Paa. Its design is based on posts that were commonly erected on ancient fortified Paa, prior to the 1830s.

Little is known of Hoera’s early life, except that he survived the attack at Mitakitaki Paa in 1822 by the invading Ngapuhi tribes between 1830-1860, when there were extraordinary changes occurring at and around Kirikiriroa Paa. Under his leadership the lands along the Waikato river were terraced and cultivated to become highly productive gardens, which supplied produce to sustain the Auckland markets. He was converted to Christianity and was largely responsible for the conversion of Ngaati Wairere people to Christianity in the 1840s.



Find out more

Read online: Hamilton Public Art - A Guide to Sculpture, Murals, Carvings and Installations - a publication produced by Hamilton City Council and Wintec.

Note: the cover portrays the sculpture of Captain Hamilton which was previously located in Civic Square but is not currently on public display.