Forest & Bird has teamed up with 26 New Zealand writers and artists to shine a light on the importance of volunteers working at-place to restore nature for future generations.
Launching on 8 September, the 26 Forest & Bird Centennial project aims to harness the power of art and poetry to inspire and connect New Zealanders with te taiao nature.
Artists and writers were randomly paired up and travelled to 13 of Forest & Bird’s 120 nature restoration projects nationwide. All are maintained by the charity’s volunteers.
The artists used a variety of mediums to create original artworks that responded to the landscape, people, species, and conservation challenges encountered during the visit.
Writers were tasked with creating a centena – a poem of exactly 100 words that must start and finish with the same three words – and a 260-word essay inspired by their visit.
The project is being run in partnership with 26, a global not-for-profit writers’ collective that establishes projects around the world, most recently focusing on environmental and climate issues (26.org.uk).
“The 26 Forest & Bird Centennial project is an opportunity to honour the mahi of our hardworking volunteers while inspiring more people to apply their passion and skills to protecting te taiao,” said Forest & Bird’s Chief Executive Nicola Toki.
“The Forest & Bird whānau is thrilled to have welcomed the 26 NZ writers and artists to our projects so they could see the important work conservation volunteers are doing around the country.
“Each creative pair has captured the beauty, fragility, and ecological importance of these conservation efforts at-place.
“The writers and artists have dedicated a huge amount of time, creativity, and aroha to this project and the results are spectacular.”
The first five projects showcase Forest & Bird’s Lenz Reserve in the Catlins; Arethusa in the Far North; Rangitīkei Reserves, Manawatū-Whanganui; Walter Scott Reserve, Pirongia, Waikato; and Pāuatahanui Wildlife Reserve, Greater Wellington. The remaining eight will be published over the next six months.
Writer-editors Jane Berney, Paul White, and Jayne Workman, from the Aotearoa chapter of 26, have been leading the creative side of the project.
“It was a privilege to visit these nature sanctuaries, meet Forest & Bird’s branch volunteers and staff, hear about the conservation challenges they face, and see the difference they are making for native flora and fauna,” said Jane Berney.
“Some volunteers told us they have been working for decades to restore and protect nature. It was inspiring to hear their stories and experience their passion for the natural world.”
Forest & Bird was launched by another passionate volunteer Ernest ‘Val’ Sanderson on 28 March 1923, in Te Whangaui-a-Tara Wellington. It became the first of Aotearoa New Zealand’s modern-day conservation charities and Sanderson led the organisation for 20 years until his death in 1945.
In that time, Sanderson employed artists, cartoonists, and journalists to spread the word about vanishing nature and published art and original writing to educate adults and children about the value of protecting te taio for all New Zealanders.
Artworks, poems, essays, and photos for the first five nature sanctuaries are available here. The writers and artists are based in Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Wellington, Whanganui, Waikato, and the Kāpiti Coast.
The 26 creatives involved in 26 Forest & Bird Centennial were: Writers Chris Bowring, Lee Ryan, Leah Royden, Paul White, Lindsey Dawson, Scott Moyes, Catherine McDonald, Jayne Workman, Hayden Maskell, Jane Berney, Gail Ingram, Richard Pamatatau, Sue Heggie. Artists Amy Parlane, Cathy Hansby, Sophia Nouchi, Simon Dowling, Dannika Tukua, Sophie Lankovsky, Lee Byford-Danes, Anya Greenwood, Sam Hughes, Amelia Hadfield, Georgette Thompson, Lynette Hartley, Gabby Mckenzie.