Artists help kākāpō cause

Kākāpō were once among the most common bird in New Zealand – but they were almost wiped out by hunters and predators.

The donated works of New Zealand artists will help Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari achieve its goal of introducing up to kākāpō late this year.

Once among the most common birds in the country, kākāpō are now battling for survival and have not been seen in the North Island for almost a century.

Tonight 20 artworks are being be auctioned online during a gala evening organised by Sanctuary mountain Maungatautari. The silent auction closes at 10.15pm.

An original drawing by James Ormsby, Elizabeth Thomson’s cast bronze cabbage tree moth, Hollie Tawhiao’s mixed acrylic on wood and a sculpture from Fred Graham amongst the works that have been donated.

“The pieces that have been donated are exceptional, with many of the artists having represented Aotearoa New Zealand nationally and internationally,” says Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari chief executive Phil Lyons.

Hamilton-based artist and curator of Ramp Gallery Hollie Tawhiao’s donated piece titled King of the Mountain is laden with symbolism and meaning. “I considered every aspect of the design to reinforce the precarious situation for kākāpō survival today”, says Tawhiao.

Tawhiao’s work depicts a star in the centre with 18 points. A reference to the when – at their lowest – only 18 kākāpō could be found.

“The maunga silhouettes are of Maungatautari, Whenua Hou, Te Hautoru o Toi and Anchor Island. The latter three are the current predator-free sanctuaries for kākāpō with Maungatautari joining as the potential fourth”.

“By purchasing a piece of art from our auction, you can take home a piece from a renowned Aotearoa New Zealand artist and also support real, on-the-ground conservation,” says Lyons.

Ten pieces have been selected to feature as part of a live auction at tonight’s event at Lake Karapiro.

Beyond the 2022 breeding season, there are very few, if any, safe sites with sufficient breeding habitat to expand the kākāpō population and Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari is preparing itself to offers the only safe mainland habitat to expand the growing kākāpō.

Ngāi Tahu and Te Papa Atawhai-Department of Conservation’s Kākāpō Recovery Team have worked for two years with mana whenua Ngāti Korokī Kahukura and Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari.

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