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Rotorua will soon be home to a massive 3D-printed sculpture

08 May 2019
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Visitors to Rotorua will soon be able to get up close and personal with a 3D-printed sculpture that will tower 12 metres over the city’s Hemo Gorge roundabout.

The company behind the sculpture, Kilwell Fibretube, is almost complete, but it required plenty of time to do it – the entire sculpture is taking approximately 16500 hours to print, with the printers running 21 hours per days, seven days a week for more than two months.

A Facebook video from Rotorua Lakes Council provides a behind-the-scenes look into Kilwell’s progress.  It shows that there’s a fine balance between keeping the sculpture structurally sound and keeping faithful to the artist’s original concept.

Kilwell staff also mention that the project has generated interest amongst the wider community, with many enquiries but nothing concrete has developed just yet.

According to information dated from December 2017, the printers will use more than 63 kilometres of PLA filament to create the 800-kilogram sculpture.

The finished product will look exactly like the model thanks to the precision of 3D technology.

Inspired by the Te Arawa history of tohunga (high priest) Ngatoro-i-rangi, who was responsible for the safe passage of his people to Aotearoa, the sculpture will form part of the southern gateway into Rotorua.

"The design is derived from customary whakairo rākau (wood carving) elements, yet is interpreted in a contemporary way,” says New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute tumu (head) of Te Takapu o Rotowhio (National Stone and Bone Carving School) Stacy Gordine.

“We always wanted to involve local business and to be able to do this is a fantastic result. It is set to be a stunning piece of art for Rotorua,’ adds Te Puia chief executive, Tim Cossar.

The sculpture has a price tag of $500,000 with funding from New Zealand Transport Agency, Rotorua Lakes Council public arts budgets, Red Stag and the Civic Arts Trust, according to Rotorua Lakes Council.