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Auckland Airport’s Terminal Plaza Upgrades Sees Jean Batten Statue Return

  • 2024-03-21
  • Significant upgrade to customer experience on the doorstep of the terminal 
  • 680m of new covered walkways, landscaping and open spaces create contemporary plaza

Auckland Airport is revealing a new welcome for customers at its international terminal, including the return of a life-like statue of one of New Zealand’s greatest aviators, Jean Batten.

Part of the old main carpark outside the international terminal has been transformed into an upgraded 19,500m2 outdoor plaza. 

The developments, which are delivering a significant uplift and smoother experiences for travellers, saw the cast bronze statue of Batten removed for safekeeping and conservation work in late 2022. 

The Batten statue returns, this time to a more prominent position, welcoming and farewelling customers, amongst the fully revamped space. 

Auckland Airport’s Chief Commercial Officer Mark Thomson said, “The Jean Batten statue provides a central focal point as part of the newly designed spaces, transforming the customer experience at the international terminal.”

The statue sits surrounded by extensive native planting with 22 large Pōhutukawa trees re-located from across the precinct and more than 4,000 new plants from local nurseries, creating outdoor spaces with a unique feel of Aotearoa New Zealand.

The landscaping surrounds the new covered walkways linking the soon-to-open Transport Hub, long-term parking, hotels and the terminal itself.

Mr Thomson said the refresh of the international terminal’s outdoor area was done with real thought to matching customer’s expectations of arriving and departing from New Zealand’s main international gateway. 

“Whether you’re a visitor to New Zealand or you call this place home, we wanted that first – or last – moment on New Zealand soil to be a great experience. 

“Tourism is a big part of our economy, with travellers coming here to experience our incredible outdoor environment. We challenged our landscape designers to come up with something that showcased the natural beauty of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland within an airport environment.

“You’ll see that reflected in not just the mature pōhutukawa, but in the volcanic stone landscaping features that flow through the gardens,” he said. 

Previously high on a stone plinth, Batten is now down at ground level, arm outstretched in a wave greeting and farewelling travellers.


Mr Thomson said Auckland Airport was thrilled to have the Batten statue return.

“While this is a small part of the seven and half hectare re-development underway, it provides a wonderful touchpoint to our history. Jean Batten was an accomplished New Zealander and deserves to be celebrated in the heart of our outdoor space,” he said.

Conserving an icon
Batten’s original Percival Gull 6, in which she completed the journey, is another popular feature of the airport, suspended from the ceiling between the public departures and arrivals area at the international terminal.

Mr Thomson said: “Not only was she pioneering as an aviator but what she pioneered in terms of paving the way and inspiring women at that time is something New Zealanders are proud of."

Time away from the airport provided an opportunity for work to preserve the 35-year-old Jean Batten statue, created by New Zealand sculptor Anthony Stones.

Conservation was undertaken by conservator Liz Yuda from Auckland-based Artefacts Conservation Limited, who worked on the statue on-and-off over 12 months. 

Ms Yuda said, “I wanted to do a good job by the artist, who passed away in 2016, and to preserve his intent when he created the statue.

“When you look closely, there’s a lot of intricate, surface detail, mainly in the folds of her coat, hair and bouquet, and those areas were particularly difficult to clean.”

She said the statue is likely to be more protected in its new location.

“It’s looking really good now. Working on public artwork is satisfying because people enjoy seeing it back in place,” she said.

New Zealand
Auckland Airport
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