Peter Pan


Cecil Thomas



  • Sculpture


  • Bronze
  • Stone


  • H2074 x 1342mm diameter at base

Cecil Thomas, ‘Peter Pan’ (1967), Rotokawau Virgina Lake Reserve, Whanganui

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


A bronze statue of Peter Pan on a tree stump with New Zealand fauna and other characters from J.M. Barrie's plays and stories.

"The Peter Pan statue in Virginia Lake is one of two versions made by Cecil Thomas in the 1960s. The earlier copy was commissioned in 1965 to be the Dunedin Botanic Gardens' first statue.

A work by Cecil Thomas (O.B.E., F.R.B.S.), an English sculptor, was selected because of his then prominence as the designer of the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal, among other achievements.

Whanganui residents Frank and Eleanor Burnet were inspired to commission a unique statue for the town by the same artist [the statue is inscribed "Given for the enjoyment of the citizens young and old of beautiful Wanganui by Frank & Eleanor Burnet 1967"]. Thomas visited the town, and over a period of several years, sculpted a new Peter Pan to stand in Virginia Lake. The unveiling took place on 12th September 1967 in a ceremony presided over by Governor General Sir Bernard Fergusson (G.C.M.G. G.C.V.O D.S.O. O.B.E.).

Peter was designed to be child friendly, posed defiantly with hands on hips, on a strengthened bronze beech tree stump. Around the stump are the fictional characters the Lost Boys, but alongside these Thomas chose to incorporate uniquely New Zealand creatures, which Dunedin's statue did not feature: snails, penguins, a limpet, a fantail, a morepork, skink and a tuatara."

The plinth was carved from Tākaka Stone.