The Lighthouse by Michael Parekowhai
89 Quay Street
Photo by David St. George
The LighthouseWith a prime waterfront position on the edge of Auckland's inner harbor, The Lighthouse is one of New Zealand's newest and most interesting public art projects. Erected in 2017 as a replica New Zealand 'state house,' a popular form of social housing constructed around the nation in the 1940s and 1950s, The Lighthouse was designed by renowned Maori conceptual artist Michael Parekowhai. The outside of the largely prosaic exterior is enlivened by Maori-influenced tukutuku panels, usually seen inside wharenui, the traditional communal meeting houses of New Zealand's indigenous people. The Lighthouse's interior is adorned with a giant stainless-steel representation of 18th-century British maritime explorer, Captain James Cook. Also inside is a filigree of lights representing the celestial waymarkers both Polynesian and European explorers used to navigate the vast South Pacific. Together with the work's location on Auckland's busy harbor, the net impact of The Lighthouse's design is a commentary on the impact of discovery and colonialism on New Zealand sovereignty and society. The most spectacular ways to consider the project's impact is from the water, after dark.