Finding Michelangelo in Myers Park

Question: what do five goats, Moses and giant palm trees have in common? Answer: Myers Park.

The entrance to Myers Park is easy to miss. There’s a sign post at the corner of Mayoral Drive Queen Street  (Auckland's main commercial street) which will lead you down to the park via a flight of wooden steps shaded by huge leafy trees. This is a very busy and noisy intersection but traffic noise is magically left behind and in Myers Park everything is quiet. 

Myers Park sits in a gully bounded by four streets and overlooked by apartment blocks, offices and a kindergarten. In the early 1900s  the site was described as 'unwholesome".  It was an overlooked part of the city, a blight on the city and definitely no place for a picnic.

The transformation of Myers Park started with a donation of £9000 from Arthur Myers, businessman and former mayor of the city, in the early 1900s.  Myers also funded the the Myers Free Kindergarten for the benefit of the mostly poor families in the area. 

Myers Park feels ancient. Giant palm trees tower overhead  and create strange shadows on the grassy slopes. There are benches to sit on and space for playing. There's an old caretaker’s cottage, one of only two Kauri buildings on Queen Street that are more than 100 years old. Sadly today it’s boarded up and deserted.

Michelangelo's Moses is the most surprising thing in the park. The statue, a worthy replica of the original, sits at the bottom of the wide flight of steps that climb out of the park and connect with St Kevin’s Arcade on Karangahape Road. Moses was  presented to Auckland in 1971 by the Milne & Choyce department store as the centrepiece of their 100 year celebrations. All in all quite an odd choice for the occasion but it adds a certain grandeur to the park.


There is another statue in the park. This one is of five goats and it's granite. The statue represents a traditional Chinese story which tells of a herd of goats discovering a bleak valley. The goats survive by eating the rough vegetation and as their droppings fertilise the ground new seeds grow. As time passes, the desolate valley is transformed into a fertile place due to the quiet and diligent activity of the goats. ‘The Five Goats’ was presented by Canton (now Guangzhou) to Auckland in 1999 in recognition of the  contribution made by the Chinese community to New Zealand.

Myers Park is a lovely route to talk for a walk from Queen Street To Karangahape Road. Stylish St Kevin’s Arcade sits at the top of Myers Park and opens onto Karangahape Road.  The arcade has high ceilings, dramatic windows and  plenty of potted palms. There are shops to browse in and a beuatifully appointed cafe.  Karangahape Road is eclectic, vibrant and fun. The Local Tourist will visit there soon.

 

The Local Tourist loves to find New Zealand's  hidden gems. You can follow her blog here http://www.thelocaltouristnz.com

 

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