Painting the kākāpō

Department of Conservation —  06/07/2015

Artist Janet Luxton writes about her inspiring support for kākāpō recovery with the donation of her artwork.

Why paint large kākāpō portraits? The short answer is easy, how could you not! I have painted birds and animals since I was five years old and have had the great good fortune to pursue a career as an artist.

Kākāpō painting by Janet Luxton.

Kākāpō portrait by Janet Luxton

In that time I have studied and painted a great many fascinating and charismatic creatures, wild and domestic. As a New Zealander the kākāpō, kea, and of course the kiwi, were in the background of my consciousness from birth. I can’t exactly remember the particular moment a few years ago when the kākāpō came back to the forefront, it was a revelation, a benign warm wave.

Nothing captures the haunting beauty of this planet – its incredible diversity and the savage contrast of humanity’s stewardship of this heritage like the kākāpō. It is very difficult to find an animal that more peacefully pursues its utterly harmless, beautiful existence. They live as solitary birds, perfectly matched to their environment, mating when they can, looking after their young, and as all animals and birds do, accepting what life hands them.

Janet Luxton with th Kākāpō she is donating to Kākāpō Recovery.

Janet Luxton with th Kākāpō she is donating to Kākāpō Recovery

We now have 126 birds, there were once hundreds of thousands. If my painting can help influence a small number of people to support conservation efforts for kākāpō, and the many other species that are endangered and deserving a chance at survival, then that’s excellent. It’s a privilege to still have kākāpō to paint.

Two kākāpō on a log.

Kākāpō are on the brink of extinction

I’m now using my art to support the latest kākāpō crowd funding campaign. My husband James and I are big believers in the real future benefits that crowd funding can bring.

Handled imaginatively and ethically, crowd funding allows people at all levels to practically support causes they believe in and to actively spread the word.

Everyone can offer a level of support that suits them. We have been fascinated by how far some of the donations to the current Indiegogo Kākāpō campaign have come – Norway, Finland, Canada, the US, Australia, Asia, and the Middle East, to name just a few.

So, if you have time please go and have a look at KAKAPO – ON THE BRINK OF EXTINCTION on the INDIEGOGO crowd funding site – future kākāpō will thank you for it.

2 responses to Painting the kākāpō


    Thank you for the auspicious write-up.

    Josephine Mead 08/07/2015 at 1:57 pm

    What incredible talent you have, Janet. Thank you so much for driving awareness of the plight of Aotearoa’s unique parrots.