I actually stumbled unwittingly upon this bronze in the seaside park though I have to admit I did suspect it had some significance.
Now considered one of New Zealand's national treasures, the statue was erected in 1954 to commemorate the Maori legend of the sea maiden who captured the heart of the chief's son but the sea people kept calling her and she kept resisting until one day she swam out to sea to meet them. They surrounded her and drew her down, never to return.
She was transformed into the reef beyond the Napier breakwater.
In 2005, Pania was mysteriously stolen overnight, but was recovered a week later and restored to her rightful place.
Pania is a maiden of the sea people in Maori legend who lived with her Maori lover in Napier. The legend says that the sea people kept calling her and she kept resisting until one day she swam out to sea to meet them. They surrounded her and drew her down, never to return. They say that now, if you pass the reef you will see Pania with arms outstretched trying to get back to her lover.
You can see the famous statue of Pania is made of bronze and can be found in the park near the waterfront
The statue of Pania of the Reef, on Napier's seafront esplanade known as Marine Parade, is an icon of the city. The bronze statue commemorates a mythological Maori heroine who swam out to sea and never returned. No visit to Napier is complete without stopping by to see this wonderful little statue.
The Statue situated on Marine Parade commemorates the Maori legend of a young chief who fell in love with a beautiful sea maiden, Pania, but later lost her and their child to the sea