‘Owairaka’ is a public art work integrated into the overall structure and design of Mt Albert Rail Station that was commissioned by Auckland Council and Auckland Transport as a joint project to integrate arts and culture into a major upgrade of a transit environment.
Henriata Nicholas (Te Arawa) and Marc Lenton of Moko-ia Creative House collaborated on ‘Owairaka’ for the 2013 Mt Albert Rail Station upgrade in the town centre.
‘Owairaka’ distinctive motif visually unifies the station and greatly enhances the benefits of the station’s refurbishment and upgrade.
The artists’ design includes a distinctive stylised poutama (stepped) pattern depicting both the palisades of Māori fortifications formerly in the local area and the notion of a stairway to heaven.
It also references the maunga (mountain) of Owairaka
(Mt Albert), from which the artwork takes its name, through a tapatoru (triangle) pattern.
This was applied to the station’s glass surfaces and composite cladding with digitally printed optically clear film. Beautifying the station with soft tones and shadows, the design carries throughout the structure and acts as a subtle aid for public navigation.
The project first originated following consultation with representatives of mana whenua including Ngāti Whātua, Ngāti Tamaoho, Te Akitai Waiohua, Te ata Waiohua and Ngāti Paoa. The Tāmaki Collective and the Albert-Eden Local Board participated in artist and concept selection.
Iwi partnership ensured that the project embodies the character of the area and expresses Māori identity as Auckland’s point of difference in the world. This has also helped to establish the project as a benchmark for further town centre improvements.
The project was funded by Auckland Transport and Auckland Council’s Public Art Regional Fund.