Pita Lagan is helping shape the Friendly Bay Playground into something beautiful.
Mr Lagan was enlisted by former mayor Alan McLay and the Rotary Club to carve the remains of macrocarpa trees into ornate works of art as part of the Friendly Bay revamp.
The first tree trunk would feature a host of native birds and some lizards, he said.
“Something to keep the kids busy, seeing how many birds they can spot, and how many of Aotearoa’s birds they can name,” he said.
“That’s always a good thing.”
Each of the trees would feature a unique wildlife theme, such as lizards or fish, he said.
Mr Lagan had been carving sculptures for 50 years, and had carved similar tree-trunk sculptures from north of Auckland to Picton in the south, he said.
He often carved details such as feathers with his chainsaws, but used grinders and chisels for the final touches atop the Friendly Bay scaffolding, because when the sea breeze blew it “rocks ‘n rolls up there,” he said.
Mr Lagan’s daughter Nina is also carving limestone sculptures on site to complement the tree-trunks.
Rotary Club Waitaki president Paul Mortimer said he and other organisers had seen the tree trunks as just standing-firewood to be sold or raffled, but Mr McLay had a grander vision.
The sculptures were one of several ongoing projects at the playground, he said.
The Rotary Club had built a bicycle path for children, and decided to fund it by selling “naming rights” to three metre sections, he said.
Sponsors paid $200 and a local monumentalist etched their names into the path, he said.
There were about 80 sections, and so far half had been sponsored by a mixture of private individuals and businesses, he said.
By Daniel Stephens