We commissioned local artist Erin Forsyth to help us create a stunning poster featuring some of our native species – Taonga o Aotearoa. Our aim is to get the poster into every classroom and DOC hut in the country, to help remind people what we’re protecting by creating a predator free New Zealand.
Most Kiwis will have a memory of walking into their local fish and chip shop, ordering their Friday night dinner, and studying the iconic fish species poster while they await their order. Those grease splattered posters probably taught us all quite a bit about fish.
So it’s surprising we don’t have an equivalent poster of our land-dwelling animals like birds, insects and reptiles. Especially as there’s an urgent need to educate people about our native species who are facing extinction.
While we’ve been thinking about producing a poster for a while, the project was fast-tracked by requests from schools and holiday parks for a poster showcasing our native species.
Selecting Erin Forsyth to illustrate the poster was a no-brainer. It wasn’t just her skill at capturing the expressions and beauty of animals that impressed us, but her work in the conservation area also resonated with our vision; to protect New Zealand’s native species.
“I utilise my role as an artist to draw (pun intended) to the necessity of kaitiakitnga and to those who make a difference,” Erin says. She had previously produced a large painting called ‘Taonga of an Island Nation’ in response to the Parliamentary Commissioner of the Environment’s report of the same name. A few of these original illustrations made it into the Taonga o Aotearoa poster.
Erin says the process of producing such an important poster was meticulous; “We figured out an approach that could function to celebrate the diversity of life in the ngahere, but also serve to show what is at risk”.
The result of our collaboration is an A1 colour poster that illustrates the variety of land-based life in the forests and shores of New Zealand, as well as their conservation status. The intention is to help people understand the urgency of working collaboratively to make New Zealand predator free.
Many of the species depicted are at risk of extinction as their numbers have been greatly reduced by the loss of habitat. On top of that, introduced mammalian predators (such as rats and ferrets) continue to reduce the populations of many of the species, who will not survive without human intervention.
The Predator Free New Zealand Trust’s poster, featuring Erin’s artwork, will be available free for schools (other than shipping and handling), and at a special price for holiday parks, tramping clubs and community groups around New Zealand. They are also on sale for $30 on our online shop. It’s hoped that the poster will be available in sanctuary and museum gift shops throughout New Zealand.
If you would like to see more of Erin’s art, her exhibition “A Few” has opened at the TSB Wallace Arts Centre, Pah Homestead in Auckland. It features stunning illustrations of New Zealand’s native plants and wildlife and is open until December 9th 2018.