Tokoroa’s tall sculptures were first suggested by landscape designer Colleen Priest, as part of concept designs for the Central Business District upgrade for Tokoroa in 1996. At a public meeting in 1997 there was very positive support for the idea of a collection of sculptured poles representing Tokoroa’s many different cultures, clubs and organisations.
Since then, the project has produced over 40 Talking Poles in a variety of themes, styles and materials and there are more Poles in the making. The sculptures can be seen mainly around the CBD of Tokoroa and form a trail for tourists to follow. The sculptures have helped to build pride in the town, and are now an established tourist attraction. Many local businesses contributed funds and in-kind support.
The inaugural Pole Art of the World Symposium in March 2004 produced 8 new sculptures in native and exotic timbers by a mix of local, New Zealand and international sculptors. The event attracted around 5000 people to the site over 3 weeks, revitalizing the Talking Poles project and proving the interest and commitment of the community to its future. The following 2006 Symposium produced another 12 beautiful sculptures in timer, stone, steel and concrete. There are now over 40 Poles in the project.
The first 22 sculptures have been valued at $158,377 (cost price only) by the South Waikato District Council.
develop the project into an internationally recognized attraction
develop a plan to offer a range of local and international business and training opportunities around the Talking Poles theme
continue to develop the number of sculptures – 60+ to achieve critical mass
run Pole Art of the World Symposia as the principle method of generating more sculptures, engaging the public and developing profile.
Grow the event each time:
12 Poles from the 2006 Symposium (achieved)
15 from the 2008 Symposium
widen the scope of the sculpture themes to include an international flavour
secure the formal support of key partners
The Talking Poles project operates under the umbrella of The Talking Poles charitable trust.