Wapiti statue to get new home

The Fiordland Wapiti Foundation's life-size statue is being refurbished in time for its unveiling at the Fiordland Events Centre next month.

After a decade greeting visitors driving into Te Anau, the Fiordland Wapiti Foundation's life-size statue of a wapiti stag will find a new home in front of the Fiordland Events Centre next month.

The prominent statue, located at the entrance to Te Anau while driving in from State Highway 94, was erected back in 2005 to commemorate the 100 years since wapiti were first introduced into Fiordland as a gift from U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt. 

However FWF president Roy Sloan said the large statue over time had suffered its share of vandalism and visitors simply wanting to climb on top of the statue to take a photo. 

Mr Sloan said the statue was becoming costly to maintain, which prompted the Foundation to begin considering moving it to a more visible location where vandals would be less tempted. 

That was two years ago, and Mr Sloan said it had taken that amount of time to navigate the process to get the right consent to move it, as well as give the statue's 60-inch antlers a proper refurbish.

The statue's new home will be in front of the Fiordland Events Centre. 

Not only did FWF think it provided a more visible location that would thwart potential vandals, it was a fitting place for the statue as well, Mr Sloan said. 

The refurbish, move, and consent process cost $5000 altogether, with additional time and energy put in from volunteers as well.

The statue will be officially unveiled on Saturday, March 17 at 1.30pm with Southland District Mayor Gary Tong unveiling the life-size wapiti. 

Mr Sloan said there would be an invitation-only celebration taking place after the unveiling as well.

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