Raupo Rap takes the form of a giant hook elevated on pillars. The hook references the tool traditionally used by waterside workers to load and unload ships - it is a symbol of work at the dockyards. But there are many layers of meaning in this work. The sweeping curve of the hook circles and enfolds in a gesture that suggests welcome and protection. The hook can also be interpreted as a fish hook. If the association with fishing is extended, the dockyard hook then becomes a fishing hook of men plying a trade to feed their families. Taking it further, "to be hooked" is to be captivated or trapped.
Sandblasted into the central column is the word Rangitane. The Rangitane was a passenger liner on the Southampton to Auckland route for over 30 years in the mid 20th century. It brought thousands of immigrants from Europe to New Zealand, including the artist's father who arrived in 1939. The words sandblasted on the smaller columns - Tofua, Matua and Moana Roa - are the names of the island traders that sailed the routes to the Cook Islands, Samoa and Fiji carrying freight, fresh produce and people. The form of the raupo reed inset into the column references the fluting on a classical column and speaks of imported European culture. It also refers to the ecology of the region; the wetlands that once thrived in this area before being drained and reclaimed for trade, industry, housing and the nearby Victoria Park.
The sculptor, Denis O'Connor, was born and brought up in this area and his father worked at the dockyards. As a youngster, O'Connor waited at the wharf gates for his father to finish work. His father died at work, on Princes Wharf, not far from the site of this sculpture. Raupo Rap therefore has immense personal significance for the artist. It also stands as a memorial to all the ships and vessels of the Auckland waterfront, those who worked on them, and those whose lives are intricately bound up with this particular place.
Date: 2005, red granite, whitegranite, stainless steel.
Sponsor: Auckland City Sculpture Trust.