Birgus Latro on display
Ohakune has a carrot, Rakaia has a salmon and Gore has a brown trout; all these towns [admittedly all on the mainland] pale into insignificance with Niue’s birgus latro – the coconut crab.
Brain child of local artist Mark Cross, he had intended it to be part of the Hikulagi sculpture park in 2011. He contacted Bootleg Design Ltd in Auckland to get the project underway and even took down a cooked uga – before the uga export ban came into effect. “Some of my projects take time to mature” he said.
Late last year, together with Willie Saniteli of Crazy Uga and and Stafford Guest of Sails Bar, Mark and his Tahiono Gallery, reactivated the project and decided that a more central location was needed. He approached WH Grove Ltd, the parent company for Swanson Supermarket who agreed to contribute and to make available space at the new complex in Fonuakula.
The uga sculpture is fashioned largely from fibreglass and automotive paint to ensure longevity. The final sculpture is on display now on temporary mount but will probably be elevate some more for a better view from the road.
Judging by the reaction so far, the Uga Sculpture is destined to be one of the most photographed local icons. But even at this early stage it seems that some people are confusing the display with that of an amusement park. Facebook is already carrying pictures of Uga-huggers. Mark has asked for the display to be treated for what it is – a work of art and not an amusement park model.