The southern sculpture welcoming motorists to Ōtaki has been installed, with the northern one in progress at press time (December 12).
Steel supports surround the structures, but they will be removed once the sculptures can stand on their own. The finishing touches are also being made to a tall, steel Ōtaki River bridge marker.
The 6-metre-high sculptures are part of the Peka Peka to Ōtaki (PP2Ō) build. They stand at the east side of the expressway just north of Te Horo, and near The Ramp at the north end, clearly visible to drivers as they sweep around the Waitohu bend.
They are intended to let motorists know they’re at Ōtaki and draw them off the expressway to experience what the town has to offer.
Their design reflects the many cultural values of Ōtaki, its heritage and aspirations.
The main columns are a nod to the waterways that once criss-crossed the plains on which Ōtaki is built. Three significant waterways – the Waitohu and Mangapouri streams and the Ōtaki River – wind together to meet in a circle that captures whiti te rā, representing the sunny rays of Ōtaki.
Ōtaki’s historical and cultural icons – including a copy of Ōtaki Today – are incorporated in a time capsule buried in the ground next to the southern sculpture.
Representatives of Ngā Hapū o Ōtaki, Kāpiti Coast District Council the Ōtaki Community Board influenced the final form through the Otāki Gateways Steering Group, which along with Waka Kotahi oversaw the design of the sculptures.
No other town on the whole Kāpiti expressway has gateway markers such as these, which has pleased former Ōtaki Ward councillor James Cootes. He advocated successfully to have the sculptures be part of the expressway build – along with Ōtaki gateway signage and interchanges close to the Railway area.
“You can drive through the M2PP expressway right past Raumati or Waikanae and not even know they’re there,” he says. “But on PP2Ō the sculptures will provide an iconic marker to signify you are in Ōtaki.
“They complement the stories of our rich history and culture told on the bridge panels, the marker on the Ōtaki River bridge signifying the staff or ‘taki’, the stories told along the shared pathways and the destination marketing signs on the expressway.
“The sculptures will prompt the interest of those driving past who might then choose to visit Ōtaki and explore further. They’ll be photographed at day and night and seen across multiple social media platforms, further reinforcing Ōtaki as a destination.”
Both sculptures will be unveiled officially next year.