Bon Voyage to WWF-New Zealand’s Whale Tales!

Posted on
04 May 2022
Tāmaki Makaurau’s largest public art trail of 2022 comes to an end. 

WWF-New Zealand and Tāmaki Makaurau have bid a fond bon voyage to Whale Tales- the city’s largest public art trail. The 80 Tails, designed by New Zealand’s great artists and have decorated the city’s streets and public spaces since January, have now found their forever homes after being sold at auction. 

WWF-New Zealand’s Whale Tales took inspiration from the Hauraki Gulf/Tīikapa Moana/Te Moana Nui a Toi and its majestic and endangered resident, the Bryde’s whale. This trail had two main goals: to raise public awareness about the state of the Hauraki Gulf and the species that call it home; and to raise money to help restore Aotearoa’s marine environment. 

Bidders from across New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, and further afield bid for these one-of-a-kind, bespoke sculptures fetching a little over $650,000 at auction. Proceeds of the auction are helping fund WWF-New Zealand’s vital work to help protect our marine environment and its taonga species, like the Bryde’s whale. 

“Whale Tales has been an aspirational story of a healthy ocean. Our ocean is vital to our survival. It’s the source of the food in our bellies, oxygen in our lungs, and the majority of the biodiversity calling Aotearoa home. Despite this, around the world and here at home, our ocean is struggling. From climate change, to plummeting fish stocks, to pollution - we have overfished, overused, and over extended the warranty on our ocean. From the top of the food chain, the Bryde’s whale, to the smallest, phytoplankton, every single species in our Gulf has been affected by our behaviour. We must change this. Each one of us has a part to play in being kaitiaki of our sky, sea, and land - and these Tails, we hope, inspired others to become kaitiaki of our home,” says Livia Esterhazy, WWF-New Zealand CEO. 

Collectively, trail goers have walked over 8000km and collected more than 140,000 sculptures via the Whale Tales app. Thousands of Auckland school children were involved in the Pēpi pod and enjoyed Project Jonah’s presentations and marine species talk. Some 10,000 people came to the final farewell weekend at Silo Park. Plus, with the help of Pop That, Whale Tales debuted the first virtual Wild in Art Trail. 

“We have loved seeing trail goers post pictures and share their stories. From the young to the old, to the whale watchers and art-lovers, from the casual wanderers to the determined collectors - Whale Tales has been able to give something to everyone, and now is time for us to give something back by catalysing our passion into action for the Hauraki Gulf, the Bryde’s whale, and ourselves,” continues Esterhazy. 

Between the ‘Big Broo’ sculptures and the Pēpi Pod, Whale Tales included 162 Tails.

“Each one of these sculptures captured the beauty and uniqueness of our moana and people of Aotearoa. WWF is honoured by the hard mahi of the artists who put their heart and soul into making each Tail come to life. Of course, the irony is not lost on us that we had more Bryde’s whale tails in our public art trail than currently live in the Hauraki Gulf. With only around 135 of these whales left in New Zealand, this is something that must change now. Tere tohorā, tere tangata - where whales journey, people follow,” says Esterhazy. 

This event was brought to you by WWF-New Zealand and Wild in Art, and made possible through the support of Auckland Unlimited and presenting partner, Harcourts. 

 
 

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