Sunday, 27 September 2020


Bronze sextant sculpture for transit of Mercury plinth

Talented New Zealand sculptor, ceramic artist and Auckland resident, Bill Hayes, has been commissioned to construct a bronze sextant sculpture as part of this year’s Tuia 250 commemoration.

Bill grew up in New York in the USA and has worked alongside many famous artists. In 1986, well-known artist, Jeff Koons, constructed “Rabbit,” a stainless steel casting of an inflatable rabbit, which Bill completed the wax work for. In May this year, the sculpture sold for an astounding $91.1 million dollars at a New York auction.

The sextant will sit atop a transit of Mercury plinth to be installed not far from the Purangi Estuary as part of the Purangi Heritage Project. The Purangi Heritage Project is an initiative by a group of Cooks Beach residents that will identify and provide more information on four or five key historic sites in the vicinity of the Purangi Estuary that relate to the explorer James Cook’s visit to Mercury Bay in 1769.

The sextant was a scientific instrument used by Cook during his voyages. It could be used to find the height of the sun above the horizon to determine a ship’s latitude and measure angles between the moon and fixed stars. Using a sextant, Cook created astonishingly accurate maps of the Pacific and the east coast of Australia. The first hand-held sextant was developed in 1759.

“I have long been fascinated with the sextant for both its artistic instrumentation and its important use as a navigational tool,” says Bill. “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to be a part of this project. I will base the sculpture on a common sextant used in the 1800s and possibly much like the one used by Captain Cook.”

The sextant will be sculpted directly in wax and then cast in silicon bronze. The piece will be 750mm tall, 600mm wide and 100mm deep. It will be welded to a bronze base plate and attached to the plinth. It will be coloured in either a rich truculent brown, to look new, or a more antique Verde Gris (green over black).

Bill began work on the sextant in December last year. It is expected to be completed and installed in late October this year.

“Bill is a passionate and committed artist that we're thrilled to have working on this art piece for the Tuia 250 commemoration,” says Lesley Morrison, one of the Cooks Beach residents behind the Purangi Heritage Project. “It is sure to be appreciated by all who see it.”

Pictured: Talented sculptor, Bill Hayes, is currently working a bronze sextant sculpture to sit atop a transit of Mercury plinth that will be installed near the Purangi estuary.


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