Nga Manu Nature Reserve has commissioned Wellington based artist Paul Forrest to create a stunning new art display at the entrance to their butterfly garden in Waikanae.

A professional artist for more than 30 years, Paul was inspired while helping out in his dad's studio as a young child.

Born in Whakatane, Paul is a self-taught professional artist, environmentalist and educator.

The butterfly artwork is the first of a number to be installed at Nga Manu this year.


His interest in nature came from "simply being born in New Zealand, surrounded by it on all sides".

Upon turning 50 his despair in regards to what humans were doing to the planet prompted his desire to use his creative skills as a voice for nature.

On the lookout for someone who could reproduce the complex creatures in an art form, Nga Manu Nature Reserve manager Matu Booth approached Paul.

Having been involved in a number of other projects promoting New Zealand's beautiful wildlife and flora and fauna Paul was the obvious choice.

"I have always been a fan of butterflies as I see and appreciate them all the time in my garden or when walking out in nature," Paul said.

There are 24 species of butterflies and at least 1700 species of moths in New Zealand about 90 per cent of which are found nowhere else.

"Creating the artworks for Nga Manu has given me a new appreciation for moths.

"The camouflage patterning is so intense.

"Butterflies are loud and full of bling but moths know how to disappear and yet they are so beautiful and complex when you see them up close.

"These artworks for the Nga Manu butterfly garden will give people of all ages and walks of life the opportunity to see them up close in all their glorious detail while being surrounded by a massive array of live butterflies.

"It'll be like a kinetic work of art that is full of life and joy."

Nga Manu has set up a Givealittle campaign to fund the project, the first time Paul has used the funding model.

"It seems such an appropriate way to get the local community in Kapiti having some sense of ownership and being involved in a creative project that everyone can delight in."

The eye-catching works will be installed towards the end of January with the hope of engaging people of all ages, bringing joy for years to come.

To help fund the project visit

To find out more about the artist check out Paul's website