Pania of the Reef

Surrounded by tranquil gardens, this elegant life-size statue is symbolic of the city’s coastal location.

Admire the fine detail and bronze finish of the Pania of the Reef statue. Stroll through the pretty gardens around the statue and gaze out across the vast blue Pacific Ocean from where the mystical mermaid depicted by the statue is said to have once came.

One of Napier’s most iconic sights and a superb complement to the art deco architecture of the city’s seafront, the Pania of the Reef statue was presented to the city in 1954 by the local Thirty Thousand Club, a group of volunteers who worked to raise the population of the town to 30,000. The statue is based on a character from an old Maori legend that tells of a mermaid who, caught between the aquatic life and a romance with a human tribe leader, was transformed into a reef. The bronze was actually cast by an Italian company with the face based on that of a 15 year old girl from a nearby school.

Look closely at the resting mermaid and notice how she is depicted in her fully human form. From her waist, a flowing skirt melts into a textured rock that sits on a base of limestone, and jewellery hangs from her neck. Read the small plaque, which has more information about the famous legend.

Wander through the surrounding Marine Parade Gardens and enjoy the picturesque vistas. To the east, Hawke’s Bay sprawls out dramatically while the gardens themselves contain tall trees, grassy lawns and beds of bright flowers. Amble along the winding waterfront path for the best views of this idyllic area.

The Pania of the Reef statue in Marine Parade Gardens is located on the northeastern side of Napier. The statue is right next to the impressive Tom Parke Fountain. Parking is available along the front of the gardens. Entrance to the gardens is free.