Point of Interest

Dame Kiri de Kanawa

New Zealand / The Pacific

The statue of Dame Kiri Te Kanawa (born 1944), the famous Maori opera singer, was created by Terry Stringer (born 1946), a naturalised New Zealander, from England, and is one of a group of artworks commissioned for Aotea Centre.  Dame Kiri unveiled the statue when she opened the Aotea Centre on 9 September 1990.  The statue is on level 3, near door D.  The sculptor designed the statue to be like a column.  He portrayed her larger than life, and as if she were taking a bow.

Dame Kiri was born in Gisborne, and began her singing as a mezzo-soprano, becoming a soprano later.  She enrolled in the London Opera Centre in 1966 and soon became an international star.  She created a sensation as the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro at Covent Garden in 1971.  Amongst numerous roles, she appeared in Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story and many operas by Richard Strauss.  She sang at the Prince of Wales’s wedding to Lady Diana Spencer in St Paul’s Cathedral in 1981, and in 2006 sang ‘Happy Birthday’ on the Queen’s 80th birthday at the Commonwealth Games in Australia.  Her last performance before retiring was in Ballarat, Australia in October 2016.

The Kiri Te Kanawa Theatre was originally the ASB Theatre but was renamed in 2019.  Originally it hosted the boxing competition of the 1990 Commonwealth Games but is now the home of New Zealand Opera and the Royal New Zealand Ballet, and a venue for international performances.  It can seat 2,200 people.  The Aotea Centre is a performing arts and events centre in Aotea Square, operated by Auckland Unlimited.  It was opened by on 9 September 1990.  It was designed by the city architect, Ewen Wainscott in 1974.  

Also in the centre is the 186 seat Herald Theatre for cutting edge new performances.

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