Art and Wildlife Conservation – “Pukaha Paintings at Aratoi”

From cheeky kaka to mysterious kakapo, wildlife takes centre stage at Aratoi Wairarapa Museum of Art and History – the 5th annual exhibition of New Zealand flora and fauna, which originated at Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre, will show at the museum from 11 August through to 9 September. Free admission.

Aratoi Director Susanna Shadbolt said, “New Zealand’s unique flora and fauna is a stunning subject and it is clear that many Wairarapa artists have a connection with the natural world.” As the region’s museum of art and history, Aratoi regularly programmes activities with an environmental focus, such as Seaweek, and exhibits art through various community arts organisations such as The Jewellery Box, King Street Artworks, Masterton Arts Club, Wairarapa Camera Club and Wairarapa Embroiderers' Guild.

This partnership between nature conservation and art not only showcases the region’s creativity but also calls attention to the state of our environment. Many native species can now only be found in paintings: Sir Walter Buller’s paintings, for instance, present a variety of bird species most of us have never seen in our lifetime.

“Pukaha is dedicated to preserving and restoring native bird populations,” said Pukaha General Manager, Emily Court. “We want to keep these birds alive, not confined only to paintings and children’s books. We are thrilled that a selection will be showcased at Aratoi, and we cannot thank enough everyone involved in the exhibition, from the artists to the buyers, and to the inspiration behind each piece.”

The selection of paintings on display at the Aratoi includes the prize-winning works: the Pukaha Premier Awardwinning work, Relics of what is left behind, by Tammie Rose Riddle of Hunterville; and two Highly Commended Award works -- Kaka feeding by Maureen Kelly of Porirua, and Lake Wairarapa by Anthea Crozier of Masterton. The judges of the prizes were Bob Francis, Chair of Pukaha Mount Bruce; Georgina Morrison, National Coordinator, Environment Hubs Aotearoa & Enviro-schools Facilitator Tararua and Palmerston North; and Susanna Shadbolt, Director, Aratoi.

The exhibition at Aratoi opens on August 11th at 11am with the announcement of the People's Choice Award, for which votes close on July 31st at The prize is a weekend residency at New Zealand Pacific Studio Artists Residency Centre. “A home for the arts located just north of Pukaha, NZ Pacific Studio is delighted to support this initiative,” said Chair Jean McCombie. “We have huge gratitude for the support that Pukaha offers our artists by way of complimentary entry to the wildlife centre. We also appreciate the ongoing support from Aratoi, which recently hosted performances by NZ Pacific Studio resident musicians and a dancer-choreographer”

The full exhibition at Pukaha, curated by Viv Walker, consisted of over 70 works by 38 artists, based in New Zealand and abroad. The annual exhibition runs at Pukaha from Easter to July each year, and in 2018, partners and sponsors included Aratoi, Fall Protect, Hedley’s Books, NZ Pacific Studio and Sylkenwood Picture Framing and Art Gallery. This year marks the first time that the annual exhibition is travelling to Aratoi.