What’s cheaper than a $2 million giant plastic waka, 150 percent the size of All Black great Michael Jones and will be on display during the Rugby World Cup? A cast iron sculpture of Michael Jones, of course. Having struggled to make her sculpture reach the funding try line, so to speak, Auckland artist Natalie Stamilla has received some good news thanks to the folks at Contractors Bonding Ltd, who have offered to put up the $300,000 needed to construct and install the giant sculpture on Eden Park grounds, where it will remain on permanent loan.
The bronze cast sculpture will commemorate the moment Jones dived across the line, making him the first person to score a try in the opening game of the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987 at Eden Park. Keeping it in the family, the sculpture design is based on the iconic photograph that was captured by Stamilla's father, Geoff Dale, during the World Cup.
With the sculpture pattern recently completed, the casting is expected to begin shortly at Artworks Foundry in Auckland to ensure that it will be completed and installed by August in time for the opening games of this year's tournament.
The sculpture will add to other artistic touches already present in the park, including six-metre tekoteko (carved statues) representing Maori gods at each corner of the ground, and a 30-metre high fern sculpted into the steel framework of the South stand.