INSIDE: The Story of Pania of the Reef.
The Pania of the Reef statue on Marine Parade in Napier has a story to tell!
The Pania of the Reef statue in Napier is a tribute to the old Maori legend of Pania, a beautiful girl/sea-creature who once lived in the ocean.
Read all about Pania, and how the Pania of the Reef statue came to be, below.
- 1 New Zealand’s own “Little Mermaid”
- 2 Pania of the Reef Statue
- 3 Pania of the Reef Legend
- 4 The Inside Scoop- Pania of the Reef
- 5 Location of Pania of the Reef statue
- 6 More Things to do in Napier with Kids
- 7 Toadstool Rating for Pania of the Reef statue
- 8 Looking for More Things to Do in New Zealand for Kids?
New Zealand’s own “Little Mermaid”
Pania of the Reef Statue
In a tome similar to the modern day retelling of the Little Mermaid, Pania left her sea people when love’s irresistible call lured her out of the briny waters, to marry a chief (Karitoki) who lived on tribal land on Napier’s Bluff Hill, a place now known as Sturm’s Gully.
When Karitoki was called to fight in a tribal war, Pania’s family took the opportunity to sing to her, calling her name. Unable to resist, Pania swam out to meet them once again.
But, when she was ready to return, a magical spell was cast upon her by Moana-nui-a-kiwa, Lord of the Sea, as punishment for leaving her family to follow her heart, and to prevent her from leaving her family again. Pania was turned into the rocky reef which lies just beyond the breakers on Napier beach.
The Pania of the Reef Statue in the Marine Parade Gardens is thought to be the first time a Maori legend has been immortalised in a bronze sculpture. She is now one of the most photographed attractions in Napier.
Kids LOVE her!
Pania of the Reef Legend
Sculpted in Italy in the likeness of a local Maori girl from the Hukarere Māori Girls’ College (15-year-old Mei Robin), the bronze statue of Pania of the Reef was unveiled in June 1954 by the then Prime Minister Sid Holland.
The 60-70 kilo statue was gifted to Napier by the Thirty Thousand Club after members heard the story of Pania from F A Bennett, the first Bishop of Aotearoa (New Zealand) during his tour of Napier.
The Inside Scoop- Pania of the Reef
Address: Pania of the Reef sculpture can be found to the left of the Napier Sound Shell as you face the ocean, on Marine Parade, Napier South.
Entry fee: Free
Opening Hours: Sunrise to sunset
Interesting fact: The sculpture was once shot in the head (strange but true) and she’s also been stolen once too. Read more here.
Location of Pania of the Reef statue
More Things to do in Napier with Kids
Along Napier foreshore on Marine Parade, there’s also:
- The Napier Playground and Junior Bike Track
- Danish Delight Icecream Food Truck
- The National Aquarium of New Zealand
- Sunken Gardens
- Ocean Spa – super fun outdoor hot pools for all the family!
- Par 2 Golf
- Napier i-SITE visitor information centre
- Across the road at the roundabout, you’ll find the MTG Hawke’s Bay (Museum, Theatre, Art Gallery complex)
Toadstool Rating for Pania of the Reef statue
Interesting Maori culture experience for the kids. Not much to do though.
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