Celebrating the sculpture on Friday night are, from left to right: Josa Ibbotson, Freya Ibbotson, Max Harrington, Finn Harrington, Paul Harrington and Sam Ibbotson. Photo: Kate Russell.

Sculpture lights up Washington Valley


On Friday night, Washington Valley’s new artwork lit up for the first time, celebrating an area that is steeped in history.

The artwork, named Tangata Taonga, was the idea of the Washington Valley Community Group, and after five years of planning, it was finally installed last month.

It now stands proudly on the traffic island at the intersection of Washington Rd and Hastings St – the historical edge of the Paruparu tideway estuary and on the original hill route from the port to the town.

Designed by Janet Bathgate in Nelson and hand cut by Classic Gates Engineering in Blenheim, the sculpture is illuminated at night by an internal LED lamp which is connected to the street light, meaning the design will be visible but no light will be projected directly outwards from the bulb.

Washington Valley Community Group member Paul Harrington says it feels great to finally see it up. “It’s been a long time coming, so it’s rather liberating,” he says.

“It’s also a little freaky as you take a risk with any public art and there’ll always be those who don’t like it, but I think anything’s an improvement on a blank traffic island. Also, once the interpretation panel is in, chevrons are removed and landscaping is established, it’ll look choice. It’s a landmark site, deserving of some recognition.”

Nelson City Council allocated $10,000 towards the project and further funding came from the Rata Foundation, the Nelson Creative Communities Scheme and the Nelson Civic Trust.

“I’d also like to acknowledge Conor from Downer and Mike from Independent Kerb and Concrete, as they’ve donated invaluable time, resources and expertise and have really helped to make it happen,” says Paul.

Once civil works are completed, the interpretative panel will be installed nearby.