John is working with Michel on his design for a huge bronze conch shell, which will represent Pacific Islanders’ contribution to the two world wars and other international conflicts. It’s a story that has only recently been told, and Michel’s passion for sharing it is infectious.
The sculpture will be displayed in Wellington’s Pukeahu National War Memorial Park from next year.
Michel, what are you wanting to achieve with the sculpture?
I hope it will prompt conversations about the stories that have been overlooked—and provide confirmation for our Pacific communities that we have done great service. The conch is called Te Reo Hotunui o Te Moana nui a Kiwa, or ‘the deep sigh of the Pacific’. At about four metres high, visitors will be able to sit in it, touch it and listen to the sound of the wind from it.
The conch is a universal symbol of the Pacific. Our sculpture also gives a nod to the somewhat mysterious story of conch shell that was left in France’s Arras Tunnels by Pacific Island soldiers in WWI. It’s fitting that the tunnel under Pukeahu Park, where the sculpture will sit, is also named Arras.
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