After a successful crowdfunding campaign, months of research, off-site creation, and a week of installation, Ngā Manu Nature Reserve's newest art installation is an interactive work of art featuring eight dwellbeings.
Installed by nomadic artists Kemi and Niko, the project has been funded through a community boosted campaign.
"The concept is all about finding ways to engage visitors, especially kids, in learning about the different ecosystems in the reserve and bringing that sense of wonder and adventure into the reserve," Niko said.
"Reserve manager Matu Booth got in touch to see if we could come up with a concept with sculptures around the reserve."
"He came up with the name dwellbeings and the concept is based around taking eight species personified into a dwelling," Kemi said.
Famous for their work creating huts, notably, their Urban Hut Club project which featured in the New Zealand Festival of the Arts early last year, Kemi and Niko have continued connecting the public to their environment through huts in a number of projects since.
The dwellbeings invite participants to consider the implications of home and habitat from the perspective of the native animals and plants iconic to Ngā Manu Nature Reserve.
"We love working with huts because it's the bare basics of what we need for shelter," Niko said.
"We chose eight different species, researched what their habitat needs are, and thought about if we were this creature and we were making a human home, what would it look like - a roof, sometimes walls, a chimney, you can see those motifs throughout the works.
"Some of them, like the canopy ones, are birds taking the place of people and some of them are like the hut itself is taking the place of the animal.
"It's talking about the habitat needs of each species."
The eight species are retotreto (floating fern), tētē (grey teal duck), ruru (morepork), waikaka (mud fish), pua o te reinga (dactylanthus), pikirangi (mistletoe), kahakaha (nest epiphytes) and Kahikatea.
Kemi and Niko's research was extensive, researching the species not just from the ecological perspective, but the te ao Māori view as well.
"We had lots of chats with Matu and Rhys Mills here and did a lot of research online and in books."
Coming up with the concepts took around four months, with the dwellbeings being created over the last six weeks.
"At the end it got quite intense.
"How we attach them to the space has also been a challenge, especially figuring out how to attach them to trees without damaging them or stunting their growth.
"Some are attached to the ground and some are in the water."
The goal of the dwellbeings experience is for each participant to react with surprise and delight upon discovering the dwelling and its associated dwellbeing.
Each artwork will work as a springboard to an understanding of what having a home/habitat means to different life forms.
"Some of these species are quite rare to Ngā Manu.
"We hope young people can learn something new about these species.
"We hope they can think about what they need to live, and relate that to what these species need in their habitats.
"That's the importance of why we need places like Ngā Manu."
The project will serve to deepen the appreciation of how art can provoke an understanding of the natural world and ultimately encourage the principle of kaitiakitanga for which Ngā Manu stands.