Gates Set To Open At Country’s Biggest Outdoor Art Event

Wednesday 01 November 2023

The country’s largest outdoor art event – NZ Sculpture OnShore – opens on 4 November offering visitors a record number of more than 130 spectacular works held at the stunning clifftop park of Operetu Fort Takapuna in Devonport, Auckland.

Returning after a five-year hiatus, the biennial exhibition is Women’s Refuge NZs biggest fundraising event.

There will be quirky and thought-provoking works, soaring monumental sculptures, sound and light art works and site-specific installations on offer from new and established artists across the motu.

Exhibition curator Sally Lush says the range of art in this year’s exhibition is truly remarkable, with more pieces to enjoy or buy than ever before.

“Visitors can expect to be blown away by the size, scope and splendour of the artworks presented this year.

“The sculptures vary in materials from bronze, corten steel and glass to terracotta, Taranaki andesite, Oamaru stone and more. They showcase the incredible versatility and skill of New Zealand’s sculptural artists.

“There’s an indoor gallery, too, that is always extremely popular. It offers a wide selection of skilfully handmade small-scale works and domestic wares,” says Ms Lush.

Several works will be built onsite, including cornerstone piece and then they kissed me by social practice artists Bernie Harfleet and Turtle Sarten. Installed in the Fort’s engine room and connecting tunnels, the confronting work is a metaphor for the experience of women fleeing domestic violence and finding refuge. Visitors will be invited to write messages of hope and encouragement to those who have escaped and who are rebuilding their lives.

Included in this year’s exhibition are Jamie Thomas’s 2.6-metre-high version of the famous New Zealand racehorse, Phar Lap complete with jockey James Pike leading the pack at the 1930 Melbourne cup, made entirely of horseshoes; the previous exhibition’s Fisher Funds People’s Choice winner Josh Olley returns with two eye-catching figurative stone works – Down is Up and The Thinker in piemontite and basalt; Mei Hill (Ngāti Whātua, Ngā Puhi,Te Aupōuri, Te Rarawa) presents Kaitiaki, a series of clothing and animals in repurposed ceramic tiles, giving mana to items that provide joy, protection and safety, one of which is inspired by women’s rugby icon Ruby Tui; Fiona Garlick, offers Scattered, a beautiful large piece in bronze; and there are three beautiful bronze female forms by Christchurch artist Anneke Bester.

Master carver Joe Kemp (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāpuhi and Te Arawa ki Ngāti Makino) offers two works including Tama Tu Tama Ora (Stand Up for Your Rights) in corten steel, a work influenced by Bob Marley’s song Get Up Stand Up; Kemp’s partner Sherie Kemp exhibits Grounded, a koru infused seat made of Lake Tarawera Rhyolite stone; and Daniel McKerrow’s skills as artist and professional engineer shine through in his work Kia Mau Te Rongo – a super-sized tūī symbolising life fulfilment, confidence and spiritual harmony - a sign of hope for women who seek support from the women's refuge.

Internationally renowned artist Lang Ea’s POP BANG BOOM! calls for visitors to help in its creation by making red pom poms. Covering one of the Fort’s gun emplacements, the installation, at first glance, is naive, playful, and cheerful, but on a deeper level, the red signals a dark and complex history of global violence, referencing the military past of the site.

NZ Sculpture OnShore general manager Dee Paranihi says the event is a great day out to share with family or friends.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy outdoor art in a relaxed and beautiful setting, whilst supporting a great cause.”

The site’s underground fort will once again host the Auckland schools’ exhibition featuring collaborative works by 16 primary, intermediate and high schools.

“Our event is one of the rare occasions that the public can access and visit the historic fort and tunnels at this rich cultural location. It is very exciting to be able to offer this unique drawcard to visitors,” says Ms Paranihi.

Women’s Refuge NZ chief executive Dr Ang Jury says she is humbled by the huge effort put into the event by the organisers and the artists.

“For a quarter of a century this event has pulled together an extraordinary range of art. It’s a really fun visitor experience and we just can’t thank Friends of Women’s Refuge Trust enough for the fantastic event they run,” says Dr Jury.

Since inception 27 years ago, the event has raised more than $2 million for the victims of domestic violence, helping women and children access safe places to stay, and providing counselling and wrap around services.

NZ Sculpture OnShore is grateful for the support of principal sponsor Fisher Funds and gold sponsors Hesketh Henry and Harcourts Cooper & Co.


  • Tickets to the Gala Opening and the exhibition are available from
  • NZ Sculpture OnShore Gala Opening: Friday 3 November 5.00pm – 8.30pm
  • Exhibition: Saturday 4 November to Sunday 19 November 10.00am – 5.00pm (closed Mondays)
  • Download artwork images here
  • Download artists’ images here
  • View the 2023 NZ Sculpture OnShore catalogue here