This is my second wood sculpture, just completed. Although the idea almost certainly grew out of the first one, I really consider it to be a step up. It took many more hours to complete and has more happening and detail to it.
As you would expect, I have always had a strong interest in nature and as a young child growing up on the farm I would spend hours playing and catching the creatures in the creeks. When we (Tawapou Coastal Natives) began sponsoring the Northland Farm Environmental Awards I became more and more aware of the immense pressure we are putting on our water ways through the intense farm practices in this country.
This work represents what has been lost and what may yet be lost if we do not protect our waterways.
This fish swimming over the top of the log are life size versions of Upokororo made from an old hardwood wharf pile. Regarded as the most common freshwater fish in New Zealand, Upokororo were a major food source for Maori and are said to have occupied every major river system in New Zealand. In 1869 a mill wheel on the Hutt River was brought to a standstill, choked by thousands of fish. By the time legislation for protection was granted in 1952, the fish were probably already extinct as the last confirmed specimens were taken in 1923. Upokororo is still the only fresh water fish in New Zealand with full protection.
The log I used is Puriri which has probably been lying on the ground for nearly one hundred years. The Tutukaka coast was highly regarded for this timber which was milled for tram track lines in Auckland at the turn of the century. It was said that there was a millable tree every chain (20 meters) along the coast. Judging by the old stumps left around the farm these would have been some impressive trees.
Eels, I love eels, let's hope they don't disappear like the big Puriri trees and Upokororo.