Renowned New Zealand artists donate pieces to silent auction to help kākāpō

Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari works closely with Ngāi Tahu to realize the vision of restoring the kākāpō mauri. Photo / Provided

The details
What: Silent auction to help kākāpō at Sanctuary Mountain
When: Thursday, June 9, 6 p.m.
Where: Sir Don Rowlands Centre, 601 Maungatautari Road, Karapiro, Cambridge
Dress: Cocktail
Tickets: $160, online here, or by email: [email protected]

An original drawing by James Ormsby, cast bronze cabbage borer by Elizabeth Thomson, mixed acrylic on wood by Hollie Tawhiao and a limited edition print by London photographer Casey Moore are among the works donated by 30 New Zealand artists renowned – all to help a rare native bird.

The nature and conservation-inspired pieces are part of a live, silent auction that aims to support Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari’s mission to create a safe place to transfer the critically endangered kākāpō.

Works include a mix of artistic mediums including photography, paintings, illustrations, ceramics, sculpture and a contemporary tukutuku – a traditional Maori art form.

The pieces that have been donated are exceptional, with many artists having represented New Zealand nationally and internationally, said Phil Lyons, managing director of Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari.

Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari provides the only safe continental habitat to expand the growing kākāpō population.  Photo / Peter Meecham
Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari provides the only safe continental habitat to expand the growing kākāpō population. Photo / Peter Meecham

Hamilton-based artist and curator of the Ramp Gallery, Hollie Tawhiao’s donated artwork, King of the Mountain, is loaded with symbolism and meaning.

“I considered every aspect of the design to strengthen the precarious situation for kākāpō survival today,” says Tawhiao.

The work depicts a star in the center with 18 points, a reference to when at the lowest only 18 kākāpō had been found.

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

Tawhiao’s work aptly depicts the perilous situation, showing that without help the kākāpō would most likely be extinct within our lifetimes.

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

Beyond the 2022 breeding season, there are very few, if any, safe sites with sufficient breeding habitat to expand the kākāpō population.

Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari offers the only safe continental habitat to do this.

The plan is to transfer up to 10 kākāpō to Sanctuary Mountain in the last quarter of 2022. With the Te Papa Atawhai-Department of Conservation kākāpō recovery team and mana whenua Ngāti Korokī Kahukura, Sanctuary Mountain is working closely collaboration with Ngāi Tahu to realize the vision. to restore the kākāpō mauri.

The live auction pieces will be auctioned off at an event supported by BiteLAB – a Montana Catering Kitchen, Vidcom, Waipa District Council and Mighty River Estate on June 9 and feature the artwork on display.

Auction items are available and bidding is open. To show your support and bid on the auction, visit

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