By Kate Hebblethwaite – Senior Ranger
Art and conservation join forces to restore Tamatea/Dusky Sound in a nationally toured exhibition featuring some of New Zealand’s most renowned artists.
In an age where hobbies are often digital, and reality virtual, our remote areas are in danger of being side-lined. The more people that connect with our wild places, the better their chance for long term conservation.
Art provides a powerful link between person and place, allowing the viewer to see, hear and experience locations they may otherwise never visit.
Tamatea/Dusky Sound, on the wild Fiordland coast, is the largest and one of the most isolated fiords in New Zealand, and holds a special place in this country’s history.
Over many centuries southern iwi knew and visited the area, leaving a rich history of place names and stories. The fiord was later named Tamatea after the captain of the northern waka, Takitimu, during its visit to the far south.
Subsequently named ‘Dusky Bay’ by Captain James Cook in 1770, he spent almost two months exploring the area on his return in 1773. Some of Western science’s first records of New Zealand animals and plants come from Cook’s sojourn here, including weka, kererū and kākā.
In 1891, Tamatea became the site of New Zealand’s first nature reserve, hosting the country’s original conservation ranger, Richard Henry. Henry worked tirelessly to bring flightless birds to what he believed was predator-free safety on Resolution Island/Mauikatau.
The place where New Zealand’s proactive wildlife conservation work began is now the site of DOC’s Tamatea/Dusky Sound restoration project.
It is one of many programmes supporting DOC’s goals of protecting threatened species and making New Zealand predator-free by 2050.
To connect the public with this remote fiord and raise awareness of its conservation values, DOC has drawn on Dusky’s deep association with artistic inspiration.
Accompanying Cook on his 1773 voyage was 29-year-old artist William Hodges, the first European to depict Tamatea’s landscape and people. Subsequent artists were equally inspired by Tamatea’s exceptional location and history; its waterfalls tumble through some of New Zealand’s most iconic artworks.
In winter 2014 and summer 2015, DOC invited twenty-six artists to experience and learn about Tamatea’s restoration project. The exhibition, Tamatea – Art and Conservation in Dusky Sound, is the result of these visits. It features more than 50 original works by some of New Zealand’s most renowned artists, including Nigel Brown, Gerda Leenards, Euan Macleod, Craig Potton, Janet de Wagt and Marilynn Webb. Videographer Braydon Moloney accompanied the artists and documented the project in a short film that will also feature in the exhibition.
The exhibition will be launched on 8 November 2016 at Parliament by the Hon. Maggie Barry, Minister of Conservation; Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage. It will then travel to the Southland Museum and Art Gallery in Invercargill for a second opening on 16 December 2016. On 24 February 2017 it will embark on a national tour. Artists’ work will be available for sale and all proceeds support Tamatea/Dusky Sound conservation and restoration projects.
Tamatea – Art and Conservation in Dusky Sound has been developed by DOC in partnership with Te Rūnanga o Ōraka Aparima, and is proudly supported by the New Zealand National Parks and Conservation Foundation.
For more information on DOC’s Tamatea/Dusky Sound Restoration project, and the exhibition visit: www.doc.govt.nz/tamatea