Wellington Scoop

Nine artists’ extraordinary wakeup call for Kermadecs sanctuary

Press Release – Pew Environment Group
Wednesday night was opening night for the extraordinary exhibition Kermadec – Nine Artists Explore the South Pacific at City Gallery in Wellington. It features spectacular works by nine artists inspired by the Kermadec region and it aims to get Wellingtonians to understand and support a proposed marine sanctuary in the region.

The nine artists – Gregory O’Brien, Robin White, Elizabeth Thomson, John Reynolds, John Pule, Jason O’Hara, Fiona Hall, Phil Dadson and Bruce Foster – took a week-long voyage to the Kermadec region last year on the HMNZS Otago as part of the Pew Environment Group’s Global Ocean Legacy project. The project’s ambition is to achieve protection of the world’s special ocean regions such as the Kermadecs.

Most New Zealanders don’t know a lot about the region’s islands and surrounding waters, even though they are an incredible piece of New Zealand’s natural environment.

The Kermadec region covers around 620,000 square kilometres, and includes 15 islands (including the better known Raoul and Macauley islands) and more than 50 underwater volcanoes. It also includes the Kermadec-Tonga trench, which is 10km deep in some areas. The region is a near pristine oceanscape and home to at least 35 species of whale and dolphin, three of the seven turtle species in the world, 39 species of seabird, 88 of crustaceans and countless other ocean dwellers.

“Wakey Wakey Wakey” is being used to promote the exhibition at City Gallery Wellington – borrowed from an artwork by John Reynolds which re-imagines the early morning wakeup call the artists experienced on HMNZS Otago.

Artist John Reynolds said “We went to the Kermadecs to be inspired by this pristine and virtually untouched oceanscape, and we came back with a whole new perspective on the region and what it means to New Zealand.

“We came back understanding the unequivocal need to celebrate and protect our ocean, and more specifically, the Kermadecs.”

Mr Reynolds said the voyage came to affect all of the artists in ways they never imagined. “Wakey Wakey Wakey is calling on New Zealanders to wake up to the Kermadecs – it’s a unique, awe-inspiring place that New Zealand is responsible for. We want more people to know about it and feel connected to it.”

From Monday evening John’s most recent variation on Wakey Wakey Wakey – Zombie Politics – will be on display in the street front window of Bowen Galleries in Wellington.

Pew Environment Group has put together a Facebook page (www.facebook.com/thekermadecs) where New Zealanders can show their support for a Kermadecs sanctuary, to carry on the momentum started by the exhibition.

More about the Kermadecs