‘Kaleidoscope’ for hoiho

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JACK.CONROY@nullcluthaleader.co.nz

A group of Art South Otago artists has extended a helping hand to the South’s increasingly vulnerable yellow-eyed penguin colonies.

An art exhibition and sale hosted at Owaka Museum is raising funds for the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust.

Artist Beth Linklater, who spent 20 years living in Owaka, said the group wanted to put together a collaborative piece that illustrated their passion for the Catlins area and its flora and fauna.

“It’s called ‘Catlins Kaleidoscope’, a large circular piece that has a number of native animals and plants painted on it,” she said.

A hoiho face can be seen poking into the bottom right section of the piece, the whole of which was put together by 13 artists passionate about supporting the trust in its efforts to protect the stocky seabirds.

“Each time we do a collaborative project we choose a cause to support. The penguins are at risk so we thought it was very appropriate.”

With a number of penguin chicks from the Nugget Point colony in the Catlins having been taken to Dunedin Wildlife Hospital in the past few weeks due to starvation, the situation had become dire.

Trust science adviser Trudi Webster said: “They’re not doing particularly well, unfortunately.

“So far this year we’ve had low nest numbers and lots of underweight chicks.”

But she said the efforts of fundraisers such as the Catlins Kaleidoscope project were a great help to the trust’s efforts.

“It’s so important. We’re always applying for different kinds of grants .. any money that comes in is incredibly helpful. It’s also important to raise awareness in the local community of what is going on with the colony.”

Trust ranger Sarah Irvine agreed.

“This art project is a great contribution toward the conservation efforts of the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust,” she said.

“This kind of community support, and that of all our volunteers and fundraisers, is extremely valuable to ongoing hoiho conservation work.”

Mrs Linklater said there were several different, smaller paintings around the kaleidoscope centrepiece at the Owaka gallery, all of which could be bought.

The main piece would be auctioned, and art lovers could sign their name in a book with their bid.

Bidding closes on March 17.