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Art & Heritage

Public sculptures Lambton Quay

  • 2 minutes


He arrived in Wellington from England on the ship Gertrude in 1841. As an entrepreneur in 1851 he purchased the stranded whaling ship Inconstant and converted the hull into a warehouse and one of the first piers in Wellington. It became known as “Plimmer’s Ark”, a centre of business in early Wellington, used as an auction house, customs office and lighthouse.

John Plimmer sculpture, Wellington, New Zealand @Stuff
John Plimmer sculpture @Stuff

He was a member of the Wellington Provincial Council from 1856 to 1857, the first Wellington Town Board (1863) and was on the Wellington City Council from 1870 to 1871.

His principal public service was the organisation of the Wellington and Manawatu Railway Company between 1880 and 1886. The township (now a suburb) of Plimmerton, on the Wellington – Manawatu Line built by the company, was named after him. Source John Plimmer – Wikipedia. The Father of Wellington”, John Plimmer (1812-1905), lived at the head of what is now Plimmer Steps, and his dog, Fritz, was a constant companion for many years. The statue, erected in 1996, depicts the pair walking towards Lambton Quay in the 1900s. In 2013, the statue was voted the most popular public artwork in Wellington.

Interesting fact

Plimmer planted an oak tree in his garden in the mid-1800s and it still stands, on the left near the top of Plimmer steps.


The Wellington Sculpture Trust was established in 1983 and is a voluntary and independent charitable trust dedicated to enriching Wellington by providing contemporary innovative public art for the city. The sculptures are split over three areas of Wellington City, creating in effect three separate sculpture walks: The Wellington City Walk; The Botanic Garden Walk and the Meridian Energy Wind Sculpture Walk. The individual walks pages provide information on all the sculptures in the walks, the time they take, the distance and the the type of terrain.

Women of Words, Wellington, New Zealand @Wellington Sculpture Trust
Women of Words @Wellington Sculpture Trust
Women of Words, Wellington, New Zealand @Wellington Sculpture Trust
@Wellington Sculpture Trust


Women of Words celebrates the life and work of Katherine Mansfield. The stainless steel figurative work is entirely laser cut with quotations from Mansfield’s journals and short stories. During the day the sculpture reflects the colour, movement and ambience of the surrounding area. At night, illuminated from within, the work becomes a lantern of silhouetted words.

  • 2013
  • Marine grade 316 stainless steel / H 3300mm
  • Midland Park, Lambton Quay

A joint commission by the Katherine Mansfield Society, Wellington City Council and the Wellington Sculpture Trust.  With funding from the Nikau Foundation, Apex Properties Ltd, Wellington City Council, Todd Corporation, Wellington Community Trust, Mark McGuiness, Jon Craig and many other donors


The surfaces of the work are covered with numerous found objects, which suggest modern day fossils. A chicken leg, toys, hardware and other objects sit alongside objects found near the site. In Shells Jeff Thompson has moved from the use of his trademark material, corrugated iron, and produced a reinforced concrete work painted in ‘pearlised’ pastel colours.

The site of the work sits on a part of the original Wellington foreshore. Drawing on this past the work has five shapes based on mussel, paua, scallop, whelk and turret. Each shape is covered in objects that have been individually cast, built into the moulding and poured as one with the shells.

  • 2003
  • Concrete and steel / 3000 x 2200mm
  • Corner Waring Taylor Street and Lambton Quay
  • Funded by the Jack and Emma Griffin Charitable Trust
  • Source Shells

Read more about places to visit in Wellington in our Willington travel guide.

Shells, Wellington, New Zealand @Wellington Sculpture Trust
@Wellington Sculpture Trust



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