Anton Forde

Anton Forde, Te Kotahitanga o Whakamaru / The Unity of Protection, 2022

Sustainably sourced Australian hardwood sleepers, ōnewa/basalt. 2700mm each.

Anton Forde’s fifty-five carved contemporary pou stand watch over the Hauraki Gulf in a kao kao/arrow formation upon the Mātiatia headland, visible from the ferry approaching Waiheke. Like a flock of migrating kuaka/godwit, or warriors awaiting in haka, this formation represents protection in standing together, and suggests a way forward in which one is guided by the ancestors of the past and the land itself.

The artist, drawing upon his knowledge and connections, offers this position as one we might assume while navigating the increasingly uncertain times of climate change, from which we might conceive of ourselves as kaitiaki or guardians of the land rather than as its possessor.

His stately figures are at once a dominating and sheltering presence on the exposed headland. Walking among them, we might take measure of our smallness in relation to the majesty of nature, of time, and of the many generations of people to have come before and who will come after.


Born Invercargill. Lives and works on Waiheke Island.

Anton Forde (Ngāti Ruanui/Iwi Taranaki/Gaelige/Gaelic/English) first began carving aged 18. With a long-standing tradition in mahi toi, tāraitanga/sculpture allows Forde to connect with the ancestral knowledge of his tīpuna in Aotearoa and connect that knowledge and values to indigenous cultures from around the world.

Having lived in Te Anau and Southland, and later in Taranaki, Ireland/Éire and Waiheke Island, nature has always been a potent force within Forde’s life. As concern for the environment grows, the indigenous knowledge he is engaged with serves as the distinctive lens through which Forde thinks and creates.

Forde holds a Master of Maori Visual Arts with First Class Honours from Massey University, which he completed in 2019 under the supervision of Professor Robert Jahnke. His work is exhibited widely and held in many public and private collections, including commissions for large-scale public sculptures.

Represented by Whitespace Contemporary Art in Tāmaki Makaurau and Milford Galleries in Te Wai Pounamu. whitespace.co.nz  milfordegalleries.co.nz