Kiwi have returned to the streets of downtown Tāmaki Makaurau.

The Kiwi Art Trail 2023 features 20 kiwi sculptures designed by a range of talented New Zealand artists, including Otis Frizzell, Mike Weston, Flox, SWEATS, Amanda Billing, Byron Romer, Sarah Oostendorp, and Kat Quin.

Organised by Save the Kiwi and Gallagher (formerly Crombie Lockwood), the Kiwi Art Trail combines art with the mission to save the kiwi. The result is a free, family-friendly public art trail around Commercial Bay, the Viaduct, Wynyard Quarter, and Silo Park. The Kiwi Art Trail starts on October 9th and will run until November 3rd.

Artists Otis Frizzell and Mike Weston have each designed a kiwi sculpture, plus the pair have worked on a collaboration as part of their joint artistic brand Weston Frizzell. Frizzell’s kiwi is designed to look like a solid piece of pounamu (greenstone), while Weston’s “Kiwi Battler” blends his love of military aircraft with the urgency of the kiwi population’s restoration. Weston Frizzell’s “Kiwi Knievel” is a fun take on Evil Knievel’s helmet, referencing the pair’s iconic artistic style.

“I love kiwi,” Frizzell says. “They are hilarious wee birds. Our most iconic species. Our national bird. We are all Kiwis! I’m so glad I can be part of this project to help our feathered friends, and I can’t wait to see what the other artists have done.”

Contributing artist Sarah Oostendorp took inspiration for her “Tāmaki Makaurau’s Tokoeka” sculpture from her South Island upbringing.

“I encountered wild kiwi once when I was little, on Stewart Island,” she says. “I saw their footprints in the sand and could hear them at night. Being a Southland girl living in Tāmaki Makaurau, I wanted the name of this kiwi to have a reference to my home. It feels like I’m bringing a piece of my home to the streets of Auckland where kiwi could have once lived.”

Save the Kiwi executive director Michelle Impey says the Kiwi Art Trail is an innovative way for Aucklanders to learn about kiwi conservation.

“Long ago, kiwi would have roamed the whenua that’s now covered by Auckland City,” Ms Impey. “Today, it’s easy for city-dwellers to forget that this taonga species is threatened. If you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of the kiwi on some islands in the Hauraki Gulf and at Tāwharanui, but otherwise it’s a largely invisible creature.

“In fact, most people have never seen a kiwi in the wild before – it’s hard enough seeing them at the zoo! It’s wonderful that we can combine New Zealand’s national icon with some of the best artistic talent in the country to bring kiwi conservation closer to home.”

The Kiwi Art Trail is an innovative way to raise awareness about the threats kiwi face.

“In recent months kiwi have been in the news for sad reasons, particularly with the spate of kiwi deaths in Northland caused by dogs,” says Ms Impey. “It’s nice to share some good news about kiwi and showcase kiwi conservation in a totally different light.”

When the trail ends, the sculptures will be auctioned. Proceeds will go towards raising the next generation of kiwi at the Gallagher Kiwi Burrow (formerly the Crombie Lockwood Kiwi Burrow), a facility managed by Save the Kiwi that incubates and hatches kiwi chicks before they’re released into the wild.

Gallagher (formerly Crombie Lockwood) chief executive Carl O’Shea says the Kiwi Art Trail is an extension of the insurance broker’s commitment to kiwi conservation since their partnership with Save the Kiwi began in 2019.

“As New Zealander’s we’re proud to back initiatives that enhance, protect and restore our environment, and the things that matter most to New Zealanders,” says Mr O’Shea.

“We’re specialists in insurance, and the Gallagher Kiwi Burrow is essentially an insurance policy for the future of kiwi. With the launch of the Kiwi Art Trail, we’re proud to work with Save the Kiwi on this unique initiative to insure the future of our national bird.”

The Kiwi Art Trail starts on Monday 9th October and ends on Friday 3rd November. More sculptures will be added to the trail in the coming week. Visitors to the trail are being encouraged to vote for their favourite sculptures.

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