Eruption of Mount Tarawera


Tuti Tukaokao



  • Carving
  • Whakairo


  • Customwood/MDF


  • H1560 x W3850mm

Tuti Tukaokao (Ngāti Ranginui, Te Arawa), 'Eruption of Mount Tarawera' (1981), McDonald's, Rotorua.

Image: Bronwyn Holloway-Smith, Public Art Heritage Aotearoa New Zealand, 2022


In 1981 McDonald's Rotorua commissioned Tuti Tukaokao to produce artworks for their new building. Tukaokao created a total of 3 pou, 5 murals, 7 kōwhaiwahi panels and other internal carvings. He also completed an external sculpture in 1997.

“The eruption of Mount Tarawera, in 1886, in which Tuti’s great-grandmother was killed, served as his inspiration for this carving.

Several hundred years before the eruption, the high priests of the Te Arawa canoe forced the Atua or guardian of this mountain to be confined for so long in the ground and caused the Tarawera eruption. The force of the eruption, in which 153 people lost their lives, can be seen in the skies above the mountain and in the turbulence of the lake of the carving.

Hinimihi – the little meeting house, on the shores of Lake Tarawera, was one of the few buildings to escape the blast which destroyed the nearby famous Pink and White Terraces. “

Source: Plaque in situ.