For better or for worse the sculpture on the Titirangi Village roundabout has become an enduring local icon – taking pride of place as a motif for many local businesses.
In the early 1990s the then Waitakere City Council, along with Unitec, promoted a competition for young aspiring artists to come up with a public artwork. The Titirangi sculpture was the work of Unitec student, Lisa Higgens, inspired by the microscopic lichens of the Waitakere Ranges. Over the years, the sculpture has been fondly (or not!) referred to as ‘monster munch’ after the similarly shaped snack, but its true name is The Bush Markers.
As the sculpture was erected locals were incensed. Many drove around the roundabout in protest, hurling insults at the artist, with one V8 ute driver attempting to throw a chain around one of the sculptures and tow it away – ah, the wild west! Nowadays it’s stressed out commuters on the roundabout hurling insults at school drop off time!
The Bush Markers installation was only ever meant to be temporary, and was due to be dismantled after 5 years. But by this stage us fickle locals had got used to the uniqueness of this artwork, and refused to let it go.
In 2009, the salmon pink sculpture underwent a makeover and was refurbished in green, to better blend in with the Waitakere rain forest.
More recently the sculpture has become the forum for public notices, with birthday, anniversary, wedding and other messages written and displayed in varying degrees of artistic ability on corrugated cardboard or flapping bed sheets.
Love them or hate them, The Bush Markers have become as intrinsically ‘Titirangi’ as Lopdell House, Te Uru, McCahon, art, bush, beaches and... yes, okay... chickens!
- Rebecca Manners