Thursday, September 4, 2014

Sky Tower

Mom and I had dinner at The Sugar Club on the 53rd floor of the Sky Tower in Auckland. As you can see, the view is spectacular. It allows for a 360 degree view of the city. On a clear day, you can see for 51 miles in any direction. Outside our window is the Sky Tower's pergola, which is basically a catwalk encircling the building. Visitors can step into a harness which is hooked to a track above the pergola and walk the entire circumference of the building at a height of 192 meters! (That's 630 feet.) The platform is only four feet wide, and it takes a person 45 minutes to walk the length. We didn't try it.

The Sky Tower is a big tourist attraction, and there's a waterfall and an enormous canoe in the lobby of the building. The canoe is a Maori carving called Mahi Whakairo. The bottom half of the hull has been carved as a gateway representing the earth mother Papatuanuku surrounded by her primal children. The bow represents the sky father Ranginui and the hull Tane, God of the forest, forcing the couple apart. The carved pieces running the length of the hull represent the genealogies of men and women. The canoe is carved from Kauri, the largest of New Zealand's native tress and the inset eyes of the god figures are Paua, the shell of the New Zealand abalone. The height of the carving is just over 56 feet. The artist was Lyonel Grant, of Ngati Pikiao, Te Arawa descent.

If you're interested, the Maori legend is as follows. In the beginning, Ranginui (Sky Father) and Papatuanuku (Earth Mother) were inseparable. There was no standing between them so all their children had to crawl around to move. According to one Maori legend, Tane Mahuta (God of the forest and eldest son) maundered himself between them and pushed them apart while they were sleeping. Awakened by this and in fear of being separated, Papatuanuku made the earth rumble and split while Ranginui lit the sky with lightning forks but to no advantage. Another story says the sky and earth did not resist when the separation occurred for it was their fate to be parted, and the rain that falls from the heavens and the mist that rises at dawn are the tears of Papatuanuku and Ranginui. Their many children (80 in total), having light, air and space to live, became the ancestors of all things on the earth, in the sea, and in the sky.

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