Art in the Park Sculpture Trail

Wairakei Primary Wows with Sculpture Trail

What do hubcaps, gardening tools, old milk bottles, egg cartons, cans, buttons, pipe cleaners, toothpicks, melted plastic and recycled wood all have in common? Well, they are just some of the materials that were used to produce some incredibly unique artwork for Wairakei Primary School’s ‘Art in the Park’ Sculpture trail.



On Friday December 4, members of the public and invited distinguished guests, including His Worship the Mayor David Trewavas, were welcomed onto the school grounds for the Art in the Park Sculpture Trail. This event was the conclusion to the school wide learning concept for Term 4. 


Totem Poles

The students of Wairakei Primary School had been tasked with producing their own installation that would be displayed and shared on celebration day in a sculpture trail.

The Art in the Park learning concept was about the practice into the discovery of the visual arts curriculum. Using our Localised Curriculum and building on from the previous learning concept of the ‘Summer Concert’ from last year, we wanted a unique way to display all of the wonderful art our students were producing. We took inspiration from the contemporary sculpture pieces that can be found around Taupō and some of our students even took a trip along the sculpture trail to visit some of these works, says Principal Paula Farquhar.

Producing pieces of artwork for celebration day wasn’t the only part of it though, it was also about really understanding the ‘why’ behind the installations.

The students really enjoyed being able to talk about their art as they worked on it. We wanted the students to articulate what they know and understand about their learning so sharing the inspiration, meaning and story associated with their installations was an important part in the process, says Paula.


Junior Planters

From their own exploration throughout the term, each classroom followed their own interest line and developed a theme or focus. There was often a story, a local link, or a book behind each classrooms’ theme. There was such a huge range of diversity over the 16 classrooms and not a single classes theme or installation was the same.


Park Like Trail - School Grounds

The sources of inspiration ranged vastly from things such as items that could be repurposed or re-used, a book by Margaret Mahy, Taupō’s Mt Tauhara, and New Zealand towns that have iconic sculptures made out of corrugated iron. Works by various artists such as Jackson Pollock and Ptolemy Elrington also provided a catalyst for inspiration, which saw flower sculptures made out of old hubcaps and gardening utensils. The Green Gold EnviroSchools award inspired the creation of fish made out of recycled plastic bottles to reflect sustainability and the schools unique aquaponics unit.


School of Fish


Sculpture Hunt


Sculpture Hunt - umm I wonder?


Sculpture Hunt - have you looked here?

Rachel Thompson, Education Coordinator from Kids Greening Taupō, was not only impressed with the students’ art using so many repurposed items but also that their art was displayed with the intention to enhance the outdoor environment.  

It was great to see the Enviro Unit looking more colourful and inviting.  I particularly loved the murals, the sensory garden, the painted totem poles, the fantastic giant chairs and the colourful flowers made from hubcaps and gardening tools, says Rachel. 


Junior Kapa Haka




When the guests arrived, they were welcomed onto the school grounds and greeted with a performance by the junior Kapa Haka. Then, armed with their custom-made Art in the Park booklet, they followed the map around the school on the sculpture trail. 

It felt like a treasure hunt, walking through the school grounds and discovering the wonderful artworks on display, says Roseanne Jollands from Contact Energy.


Rosanne Jollands - Blooming Beautiful. Seriously did six-year-olds make these?

The Art in the Park booklet that guests received outlined the story behind the artworks and students stayed with their installations to explain them to guests. Many of the guests, including His Worship the Mayor, loved speaking to the students about their works.

The enthusiasm and welcoming nature of the school pupils and staff was one of the main highlights. It was just fantastic! Every piece of artwork had a meaning and a purpose, says Mayor David Trewavas.


Principal, Paula Farquhar and His Worship the Mayor, David Trewavas

Principal, Paula Farquhar, loved seeing how much the students enjoyed working on their installations.

It was such a motivating learning concept and it maintained their interest all term. You could tell that the children were genuinely excited by it, says Paula.

This enthusiasm clearly resonated through strongly on the day too. Many of the guests acknowledged how proud the students were sharing their artwork with the wider community.


Chris Martin, Chairperson of the Taupō Sculpture Trust.

The thing that impressed me the most was the children’s passion for what they had created. They proudly stood beside the sculptures they had worked on, and spoke about how much they enjoyed the challenge of producing the works of art.  There’s something exciting about seeing what young minds can create when they are given a brief and the freedom to express themselves, says Chris Martin, Chairperson of the Taupō Sculpture Trust.



Students took the school’s learning vision of the POWER values to a new level (Pride, Opportunity, Whanau, Excellence, and Respect) with Art in the Park. Seeing the schools POWER values embedded in the students’ work was the icing on the cake for Principal Paula Farquhar.

There was a huge sense of pride taken with all of the artwork which was reflected in the quality of the work produced. The standard was so high that each piece echoed the excellence that we strive for. Sharing it with our wider community shows our commitment to whanau, and respect was demonstrated for our school in the way the art was displayed.

















Download WPS-ArtinthePark2020v07.pdf

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