Take a kayak or boat tour around the scenic Western Bays of Lake Taupō to see the huge Māori rock carving at Mine Bay.
In the late 1970s master carver Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell had completed his 10-year training period with Māori elders. He came to his grandmother's land at Lake Taupō to mark the occasion with a significant carving.
I saw this huge alcove and it was like a voice called out - I saw an image of a tattooed face and I decided I would sculpt Ngatoroirangi
Matahi decided to carve a likeness of Ngatoroirangi, a visionary Māori navigator who guided the Tūwharetoa and Te Arawa tribes to the Taupō area over a thousand years ago. In recognition of the cross-cultural nature of New Zealand, Matahi carved two smaller figures of Celtic design, which depict the south wind and Ngatoroirangi stopping the south wind from freezing him.
The main carving is over 10 metres high and took four summers to complete. The artwork is Matahi's gift to Taupō. He and four assistants, Te Miringa Hohaia, Steve Myhre, Dave Hegglun and cousin Jono Randell, took no payment other than small change donations from local bar patrons to cover the cost of the scaffolding.
The carvings have become an iconic cultural attraction for the region and a clear demonstration that traditional Māori knowledge and skills continue to be passed from generation to generation.
The Mine Bay Māori Rock Carvings can only be reached by boat and are best viewed up close from a kayak.