Higginbottom Fountain


Arthur Vogan



  • Fountain


  • Copper
  • Steel
  • Lighting
  • Coin-activated operation
  • Fountain/water feature mechanism

Arthur Vogan, 'The Higginbottom Fountain' (1971), Rotokawau/Virginia Lake Reserve, Whanganui.

Image: Bronwyn Holloway-Smith, Public Art Heritage Aotearoa New Zealand, 2021


The 'Higginbottom Fountain' first played in October 1971, and has delighted visitors to Rotokawau, Virginia Lake ever since. The work consists of a submersed pump that forces over 2,000 litres of water per minute through several hundred jets. These bursts forth from the huge copper petals of a floating water lily, supported on hidden steel pontoons. Not only does the water cycle through an animating series of spouting patterns, but at night 15 lamps illuminate the jets in colours of amber, blue, green and red.

Funded by well-known local philanthropist Percy Higginbottom, the Council commissioned its assistant city engineer, Arthur Vogan, with design of the fountain. Tom Russell Ltd performed metalworking duties, Ian Collings was the electrician and Steel Boats constructed the five steel pontoons.

Where to locate the fountain was the subject of several years of debate some arguing to place it outside the War Memorial Hall while others opted to float it in Virginia Lake. By 1971 those for the Virginia Lake site had won and the piece was unveiled in all its watery glory.

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