Journey The Kakapo of Christchurch

journeyJourney – The Kakapo of Christchurch was a two week participatory public art project for Christchurch, utilising the Kakapo’s journey to recovery as a metaphor for Christchurch’s journey to rebuild.

The Kakapo is the world’s heaviest, flightless parrot. It’s native to New Zealand and it’s currently critically endangered. In the 70s the Kakapo was almost wiped out – only 18 remained. Since then, the Kakapo has been on its own journey of healing thanks to a conservation group called Kakapo Recovery. Even though the Kakapo is still endangered, there are now there are 124 birds alive and well in the wild. Each one has a name – like Sirocco, the Kakapo Recovery program ambassador and official New Zealand Spokesbird for conservation.

When the artist contacted the Kakapo Recovery team about this project, they were very excited and asked how many were planned for the project. “Wouldn’t it be great,” they wrote in an email, “if you made 124 of them, one for each Kakapo alive today?” How could I turn that idea down?

So from the 13 – 23 of March 2014, I traveled to Christchurch to install a 124 soft sculpture Kakapo around the city. These birds were then left for the people to find and move, hide, remove, adopt or throw away. Part participatory art project, part game, part scavenger hunt and part social media check in, Journey invited people to get involved with an art project on a very personal level.

Running parallel to this installation were be free public craft workshops over two weekends, supported by Gap Filler and presented in their Pallet Pavilion, where the general public were invited to make their own Kakapo to keep or to install on the streets for themselves as a gift for others. These workshops offered a simple felt Kakapo pattern with local crafters on hand to help if needed.

The response from the people of Christchurch and from the Kakapo adopters was just amazing.

To see the tumblr blog of the entire project, please click here:

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy February 9, 2014 at 3:04 am

Fantastic post! Thanks for introducing me to more giving street artists. I look forward to doing something similar soon. You are a true inspiration. Keep it up.

Sayraphim February 9, 2014 at 4:17 am

Hey Amy, thanks for your lovely words! Let me know how your drop goes, I’m always interested in what other people in this type of field are doing!

Maryke Land March 19, 2014 at 4:52 am

Kia Ora Sayraphim,thankyou for the very cool way you are helping to raise awareness of the kakapo and for sharing your talent so generously.we are wondering if all the hidden kakapo have been found,we havent had time to hunt ourselves yet!

Sayraphim March 19, 2014 at 9:17 pm

Hi there!

Thank you for your lovely words, they mean a lot to me!

I’m putting 12 kakapo out a day, which means that there are still some left. You can keep an eye on my twitter account: or my facebook page for details of each drop. I’m here til Sunday, so I hope you find one!

Maryke March 20, 2014 at 11:20 pm daughter would love to come along to the kakapo making workshop at the pallet pavillion but i see there are other events being held there on sat&sun,will you still be holding workshop there?

Sayraphim March 21, 2014 at 12:16 am

Yes! We’ll be around the side near the gapfiller hq and food vans. See you there!

Maryke March 21, 2014 at 12:34 am

Sweet, we need to bring any equipment?

robertafsmith April 25, 2014 at 11:24 pm

Christchurch City Libraries is loving this project! Kakapo have popped up in several libraries, here is a blog about one of them:

Sayraphim April 27, 2014 at 12:35 am

Hi Roberta
Oh, that’s so amazing! I’ve tried to figure out where little ToiTiIti might have been released and I think he might have been left in the Botanical Gardens. I wonder what adventures he’s been on between then and now! I love that even though these birds are flightless, they seem to be most adventurous!
May he bring you and everyone who visits your library much joy!
Thanks so much for letting me know!