Sam Mahon

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Mahon's stone cairn in Cathedral Square, protesting the loss of regional democracy in Canterbury

Sam Mahon is an artist and author living in Waikari in North Canterbury in the South Island of New Zealand. He is the son of Peter Mahon, a lawyer notable for the Mt Erebus disaster inquiry.


Sam Mahon has become involved with preventing water pollution in the Canterbury Region and is using art to highlight the issue. In late October 2009, Mahon made a bust of Environment Minister Nick Smith out of dairy-cow dung in order to publicise the campaign to stop the Hurunui River from being dammed for irrigation.[1] He later sold the sculpture on online auction website Trade Me, where he described the sculpture or the subject as "light and hollow and highly polished".[2]

In March 2010, the National Government passed legislation that saw elected members of Environment Canterbury replaced with government-appointed commissioners. Three months later at a protest rally in Cathedral Square, the largest protest in the Square in years, Mahon installed a stone cairn opposite ChristChurch Cathedral's entrance. Protesters were encouraged to bring a river stone, and the cairn remains to this day.[3][4][5]

In the lead up to the 2011 election he created a painting of prime minister John Key dead in an alley. The image was made into a game on his website where visitors could guess who killed the PM by watching video clips embedded on the page. Those who guess correctly will be announced on election day (26 November) and be eligible to win prizes, including a cast bronze of a dying dove, another work by Mahon which he describes as "a metaphor for dying hopes".[6]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jeff Hampton (29 October 2009). "Artist protests damage to environment with Nick Smith dung sculpture". TV3 News// Archived from the original on 29 October 2009. Retrieved 30 October 2009. 
  2. ^ "Nick Smith manure sculpture sold". 7 November 2009. Retrieved 14 March 2017. 
  3. ^ Williams, David (14 June 2010). "Large rally protests over water". The Press. Retrieved 14 March 2017. 
  4. ^ Mahon, Sam (7 June 2012). "Connection to the cathedral". The Press. Retrieved 14 March 2017. 
  5. ^ Mitchell, Charlie (26 September 2016). "Artist Sam Mahon installs protest sculpture at Environment Canterbury". Retrieved 14 March 2017. 
  6. ^ "Art shock 'kills' PM in alley". Sunday Star Times. 13 November 2011. 

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