Fish Canopy


Rewi Thompson

Aronui Trust Carvers

Whaiora Marae



  • Sculptural Utility


  • Glass
  • Steel
  • Paint
  • Concrete

Rewi Thompson (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Raukawa), Aronui Trust Carvers, Whaiora Marae, ‘Fish Canopy’ (1987) [head], Ōtara Town Centre, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland.

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


“Commissioned by Manukau City Council to revitalise this vandal-prone 1960s shopping mall, Thompson was asked to create an identity for the place that more closely reflected the predominantly Māori and Polynesian character of the area. The image of a fish was selected for the project, which Thompson realised as a series of canopies. The strongly Pacific–inflected decoration of the structures was controlled by the local community and carried out by local artists – the lower level concrete elements were painted and lashed with ropes.” (Barrie)

"Rewi Thompson has always been an influence of mine especially his work on the Ōtara Fish Canopy for its influence on the space that it inhabits and its modern interpretation of the traditional Pacific fale. The Fish Canopy is a very influential piece of architecture within the Otara community as it strongly represents the prominent Polynesian community that inhabits the area. Located within the Ōtara Town Center that holds a shopping center as a well as a local rec center and the Manukau Institute of Technology as well as host a weekly flee market on Saturdays. Without the Fish Canopy, the space of the of the Ōtara Town Center would feel very empty as well as lack a sense of character. The Fish Canopy creates a sense of identity within the area – it has become recognized as an architectural symbol of Ōtara, making it very memorable and you can’t visualise the area of the Ōtara Town Center without visualising the Fish Canopy.

This aspect of the Fish Canopy has been an influence of the intentions I wanted to incorporate into the navigational sculptures I will be implementing into the Superblock. By creating these sculptures in a way that it symbolises its street locations that it inhabits in order to create a visual memory of the area. This will contribute to how one will remember the area as the influence of the sculpture will also create a memory of the environment that surrounds the sculpture.” (Latu)

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