David Broker
Director of Research,
Office of Moribund Collections,
Office of Cataclysmic Tourism
Office of Public Erections

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Office of Public Erections

Report #2

Hell's Gate/Tikitere, Rotorua, Aotearoa/New Zealand

The publicity brochure describes Hellšs Gate/Tikitere as "the beast !" "... You walk past steaming fumeroles and pools of boiling mud so violent they are unnerving ...you will see unearthly vistas." You certainly will. The most unearthly vista, however, is not geothermal. It is what appears to be the face of a Maori warrior that one encounters on the walk to the active volcanic crater. This was once an area where warriors returning from battle bathed to salve their wounds and today tourists and locals continue to take the curative waters for a fairly substantial fee.

While the volcanic nature of this area is such that it could well be the concern of the Office of Cataclysmic Tourism the enormous "mask" and its prominence is essentially the business of Public Erections.

Somewhere between a laughing Buddah and Luna Park the masque is a travesty that flies in the face of years of post-colonial theory and one must wonder by whom it was created and for what purpose. It is undoubtedly not decorative although I sense, that this was the original intention. It was also possibly to provide a (superfluous) air of authenticity in an area that requires no such thing. The Rotorua district is steeped in history and if one is an enthusiastic tourist it is not difficult to find the authentic trappings of Maori Culture.
The mysterious mask is a jarring experience for the unsuspecting visitor and yet it has provided an interesting perch for the colony of peacocks that inhabit Tikitere. I should mention here that New Zealand is largely devoid of native animals and the native birds tend to shy away from human contact. The introduced and ubiquitous peacock which is found in parks throughout the country has gained the status of an honorary native. (Not unlike a significant part of the human population) This, however, is a complex issue and there is not enough space here to elucidate. Suffice it to say that the mask, which scarcely provides a legitimate reference to Maori culture, might also be situated within this bizarre zone of the honorary. In conclusion, it is a public erection so difficult to fathom we can at best offer only a few ideas as to its purpose and success as an aesthetic object