Stone for Pikorua sculpture

Pikorua Sculpture


Pikorua stone sculpture

Pikorua sculpture – carved in Howley Park sandstone – 28″ x 20″ x 44″


Selecting and preparing the stone for carving

Shaping the stone   stone for Pikorua sculpture

Visiting Valley Gardens, Harrogate

In November 2022 I visited the New Zealand Garden, an area within Valley Gardens in the centre of Harrogate.  I met with Sue Wood, Horticultural Development Officer from Harrogate Borough Council, and Nigel Clay from Harrogate International Partnerships Ltd to discuss a commission for a large, free-standing sculpture in Yorkstone.

New Zealand Garden   Shrubs in New Zealand Garden

New Zealand Garden Phormiums

In outline the sculpture would follow the theme of a New Zealand emblem, which would be placed at the centre of the garden which is in the process of being pruned, regenerated and remodeled.  We marked the spot with a red dot where the sculpture will sit.

Marking the spot   Hebes in New Zealand Garden

The New Zealand connection

Links with New Zealand go back to the Second World War.  A large number of New Zealand and Australian aircrew were stationed in Harrogate.  Those lost are remembered in the memorial for the Commonwealth War Graves in Stonefall Cemetery in the town.  This led to Harrogate being twinned with the city of Wellington in New Zealand.

The garden dates back to 1954 commemorating the twinning.

The Pikorua Symbol

The Pikorua is a famous Maori symbol that represents the journey of life, friendship, eternity and loyalty, as well as the connection of people and the joining of different cultures.  Its positive symbolism and universal relatability has made it one of the most popular symbols as a decorative motif in carvings.

The design resembles the twists of new PikoPiko fern fronds that are intertwined and found in New Zealand native forests.


Carving the sculpture

Stone for Pikorua sculpture   Stone block

stone Pikorua in progress   stone carving

Pikorua sculpture   Pikorua sculpture

stone carving

stone sculpture   Pikorua stone sculpture

stone carving   stone carving

stone carving Pikorua   Refining the stone Pikorua

work on sculpture

progress of Pikorua   Twists of Pikorua sculpture

detail of carving Pikorua


Site Preparation

New Zealand Garden

Meanwhile, while I’m lost in the curves of the Pikorua, at Valley Gardens the team from Harrogate Borough Council are busy preparing the site in readiness for the sculpture, and creating a plinth for the Pikorua to sit on.

excavations for plinth   stage of plinth

Finishing the Pikorua Sculpture

To achieve a contrast of the Pikorua shape, emerging from the more rustic lower section, it needed to be sanded smooth.  Every inch is gone over with abrasives to level any bumps or lumps, so the eye follows the loops, twists and curves freely.

Sanding the stone   Sanding the Pikorua


Delivery and Installation of Pikorua Sculpture

delivering the Pikorua Sculpture

installing the Pikorua

On delivery day I was joined by the very well prepared and able team from Harrogate Borough Council.  Happily we had a morning of lovely sunshine and my ‘helpers’ efficiently and speedily had the Pikorua sculpture off-loaded and intalled on its plinth.

Now they can put the finishing touches to the garden, with planting and pathways ready for the ‘Grand Opening’.

Finishing touches to the garden


New Zealand Garden re-opening


Saturday – 22 April 2023, 11 am

Organised by Harrogate International Partnerships


Valley Gardens in Harrogate looked so beautiful and spring fresh with blossom for the day.  The Tewit Intermediate Band played to begin proceedings, and the National Anthems of New Zealand and the UK performed and sung.


Welcomes and introductions were made by Chair of Harrogate International Partnerships Dennis Richards.

   welcome by Dennis Richards, Chair HIP

Elizabeth Smith followed with a short history of the New Zealand Garden from 1953 – 2010 and the link with Stonefall Cemetery.

The new board highlighting features within the garden was officially opened by Bobbie Sissons, and Fran Sissons gave a talk about her father and the history of the garden ongoing from 2010 – 2022.

Sue Wood, Harrogate Borough Council brought to life the planting in the refurbished garden and explained about the plants chosen and Nigel Clay, Harrogate International Partnerships revealed the meaning of the Pikorua symbol and the Wellington Bench, made in oak and etched, donated to the garden by Wellington City Council, New Zealand.

Planting explained by Sue Wood at the New Zealand Garden re-opening ceremony

Sue Wood introduces us to the planting within the refurbished garden

And the sculpture is unveiled!


the Pikorua sculpture unveiled

Virginia Partridge unveiling the Pikorua sculpture

Pikorua sculpture unveiling in New Zealand Garden

A vote of thanks to the people of Harrogate was given by Flt. Lieut. Dan Channon RNZAF who represented his country at the opening, and the New Zealand capital of Wellington.

Vote of thanks by Flt Lieut Dan Channon RNZAF

A vote of thanks was given by Flt. Lieut. Dan Channon RNZAF

Here he is with the Pikorua sculpture.

New Zealand Garden re-opening celebrations


An emotional and utterly heart-warming celebration!



With special thanks to

Friends of Valley Gardens

Harrogate International Partnerships Ltd

Harrogate Borough Council

Dring Stone