Three Whales Sculpture by Peter Cramond & Liz Roris (2006)
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The Three Whales sculpture is a Creative Communities project funded and supported by Creative Tauranga and the Tauranga City Council specifically for the Papamoa Library and Community Centre. The Artwork was created by Peter Cramond and Liz Roris along with support from the local Papamoa community and Nga Potiki. It can be found outside the entrance to Papamoa Library.
The mosaic frieze on the outside library walls depict Papamoa, its surrounding hills and beach. It tells the story set a long time ago of a whale and her baby who swam into Tauranga Harbour between Mauao and Matakana Island. The two whales swam past Te Papa, Matapihi and Maungatapu. The pair found that the water began to shallow due to the changing tides and tried to return to the deeper water, however the tides turned too fast and the pair became trapped. Both struggled over the mudflats of Rangataua, trying to find a way back to the open sea. Tired, they stopped at Karikari on the eastern shore to drink from a stream. The stream was magical, and life immediately departed from the mother whale fixing her to the spot, turning her into a gently rolling hill gazing northward out to Papamoa and the sea. The baby also drank and became fixed, nestled beside the mother. The third whale, the father, came looking for his family wondering what had happened. Following the same path he found himself in the same predicament, tired and stranded. Coming upon the stream he too drank and the magic from the stream fixed him in place.
These Three Whales are now proud sentinels for Tauranga Moana, standing supreme as high hills overlooking Papamoa, Tauranga and the hinterland. Local Tangata Whenua, Nga Potiki, identifies the mother as Maungamana/Mangatawa, the baby as Hikurangi and the father whale, Kopukairoa. The stream they drank from is now referred to as “Te Wai U o te Tohora” which means the “The Milk of the Mother Whale” [Note: Kopukairoa is also known as Kopukairua].
Photograph: Debbie McCauley (22 November 2016).