29 January 2021

Final weekend for Canterbury's waddle of Pop-up Penguins


From Rangiora to Rolleston, Christchurch to Kaiapoi, 120 penguin sculptures have brought joy to the streets of Canterbury this summer.

This weekend sees the end of the Pop Up Penguins art trail, but there is still time to visit a few more before they are gathered up to be sold at a charity auction next month.

The penguins have been installed in libraries, parks, supermarkets and museums, and each one has been individually designed by some of New Zealand’s most exciting artists.

People have followed the trail via the special app, collectively walking more than 23,000 kilometres – greater than the distance from New Zealand to the UK.

Many visited all 120 penguins, with one Dunedin woman visiting each one in a single day.

The app has been downloaded 10,500 times, allowing people to “like” their favourite penguins.

The most liked was Punk It Penguin, which stood in Cathedral Junction in central Christchurch.

Artist Laura Hewetson with her creation Punk It Penguin in Cathedral Junction.
ALDEN WILLIAMS/STUFF
Artist Laura Hewetson with her creation Punk It Penguin in Cathedral Junction.
Artist Laura Hewetson said the steampunk design allowed her to use the skills and techniques she learned while working in the paint department at Weta Workshop, where she helped create armour and weapons for the film series The Hobbit.

“I wanted to create something that could showcase my love of costumes, theatrics and creating a character,” she said.

Punk It Penguin was made from materials sourced from op shops, dumps and Christchurch recycling charity Creative Junk.

Hewetson used old yoga mats, plastic lids, drink bottles, toys, wires and even oven knobs.

She said it was “great” her design was the most liked.

Artist Magpie Castle gives her penguin Shine On a quick polish.
CHRIS SKELTON/STUFF
Artist Magpie Castle gives her penguin Shine On a quick polish.

“Punk It was a last-minute entry and I only had two weeks to complete him, so it was a massive challenge.”

The mum of two moved to North Canterbury from Wellington two-and-a-half years ago, and teaches classes in creative arts at NEST Arts Collective.

“I'm so grateful to have my art studio and workshop space at NEST in Amberley, where I could create (Punk It) and the public could come and watch him be put together.”

Punk It had 3488 visits, but was not the most visited.

Mophead author Selina Tusitala Marsh and artist Lisa Rudman who based her design on the famous children’s book.
STACY SQUIRES/STUFF/STUFF
Mophead author Selina Tusitala Marsh and artist Lisa Rudman who based her design on the famous children’s book.

That honour went to Penguin Disguised as a Tui, in Cashel St, which as of Thursday had 4948 visits.

The top five most visited were:

  • 1st Penguin Disguised as a Tui – 4948
  • 2nd Cousteau – 4539
  • 3rd Whakahīhī – 4512
  • 4th Mophead – 4447
  • 5th Heart of Billows – 4296

The penguins will be gathered one last time at a free public display at the Air Force Museum of New Zealand in Wigram on February 13 and 14.

And on February 16 the large penguins and a small number of the little penguins will be sold at auction.

Organisers Wild in Art have received over 130 requests from across the country to register to bid for the sculptures.

120 individually designed penguin sculptures have decorated Canterbury streets since they were unveiled in December.
STACY SQUIRES/STUFF
120 individually designed penguin sculptures have decorated Canterbury streets since they were unveiled in December.

Three quarters of the auction’s proceeds will be donated to Cholmondeley Children’s Centre, which due to Covid-19 had to cancel its major fundraising events in 2020.

Tickets to the auction can be purchased from EventFinda.

The 65 little penguins that were decorated by schools and were also part of the public art trail will be returned to their schools after the farewell event.