Processing the Temple of Wyrd

Jun 5, 2015 | Art, Kiwiburn, The Temple

Have you ever wondered how the Temple and Effigy even exist at all? Who designs them? Who builds them? Who decides? What are they… even? Rohana Weaver was the successful applicant for Kiwiburn 2015’s Temple design. She put together a team and led the build to make it happen.  She enlightens us about what designing and building the Temple was like for her:

By Rohana Weaver

My first inklings of an application for the Kiwiburn 2015 Temple started with a few conversations with burners and friends who I wanted to create with and work with – after numerous wee talks it became apparent that if I put in a proposal there were lots of wonderfully creative people around who would help me facilitate this artwork an put themselves and their ideas into the Temple.

My first sketches were well, sketchy – but you gotta start somewhere! And I always had the idea that the work would change and develop depending on whoever wanted to be involved – and it did indeed!


Based on a combination of wanting to recreate the feeling of a forest canopy, combined with elements of eastern and western sacred space structures and incorporating the geometric patterns of the Celtic triskele (a symbol of unity) The Temple of Wyrd started to appear in my mind.


The design process was full of many scribbles and calculations and scraps of paper, and figuring out some unusual building methods and whether they would work (the use of rope instead of screws and nails and a bent bamboo structure that pushed the materials’ capabilities, as well of the use of flag tiling for the tops of the structure). After my sketches were accepted some of the crew and myself got together and started testing out how things would work. It was very confidence building to do a lot of the problem solving and testing before hitting the Paddock – I think this is what made our build so smooth in the end!


It was pretty regular thinking, planning, organising, ordering, budgeting and talking to the KB community from then up until the build that helped spread out the workload. We had a couple of work days in Wellington including a whole day of harvesting bamboo which made life a lot easier when it came to arriving on site, knowing that we had already done a lot of work to make it happen!


The build itself was great; the MPW (Ministry of Public Works), Depot and Build Liaison onsite support was awesome, the Fluffers spritzed us and snacked us and perked us up in the heat numerous times, nothing like a good twerking session mid afternoon to keep you going (thanks Mel). Having a great crew with a variety of skills who were willing to work hard and put themselves into the project made the build awesome – everyone was forward with their ideas and worked well beyond my expectations – any problems we had were brainstormed away and it was a whole lot of sweaty, creative fun.


We finished the build before the festival started which allowed the crew a day to relax and prepare themselves, to sit back and enjoy their work and the rest of the festival. We put up signage this year to explain what the Temple was and the intention of it burning in silence. I felt this was important to help people understand that for many the Temple was a rare opportunity to process, remember, grieve or let go, and that maintaining a respectful silence enabled each person that precious moment of internal reflection.


The burn happened on the final day of the festival. After going through the burn plan with the Fire Service and MPW they helped us load it up with fuel, and with Effigy Crew they maintained perimeter during the burn. I was blown away with how well the structure burned, how it seemed to me like a flower opening its petals as the structure disintegrated, leaving three fire tornadoes from the three pods. Most of all I was humbled by the crowd’s reaction – complete silence – it was very moving indeed.


The next day the festival was over and the revelers were all leaving. Meanwhile we started the clean-up to make sure the Temple also “left no trace”, or at least only left a trace in our minds, hearts and experiences.


Photos courtesy of Peter Jennings.


Do you have ideas for next year’s Temple of Effigy? It’s never too early to start sketching and talking to your friends about whether they can take the time off work to help you build.  The ExCom will be accepting submissions later in the year (around September usually). Sign up for our newsletter by filling in the box at the bottom of this page to stay informed.



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