An exhibition documenting the history of a beloved Rotorua family event is ready and waiting for more of the community to view it.

The photographic exhibition History of 'Children's Day at the Redwoods' is on display at the Rotorua Lakes Council Galleria until January 24, 2019.

The images showcase the forest celebration since its inception more than 18 years ago.

The Travelling Tuataras were the first to organise a Family Fun Day in the Redwood Forest and this has evolved and grown over the years.


In 2004 Rotorua Lakes Council joined forces with the Travelling Tuataras to make the event bigger and brighter.

Visitors enjoy the opportunity to explore the forest in a new way and celebrate children in the natural playground.

In 2009 Children's Day was combined with the Redwoods Family Fun Day and in 2010 the first Redwoods Children's Day celebrations were held.

Children's Day is a national celebration observed annually on the first Sunday in March.

Jill Walker of The Travelling Tuataras says the forest seemed like the perfect place for the celebratory event.

Jill Walker of The Travelling Tuataras (front) with local photographers Riley Claxton (left) and Natascha Hartzuiker at the exhibition. Photo / Ben Fraser
Jill Walker of The Travelling Tuataras (front) with local photographers Riley Claxton (left) and Natascha Hartzuiker at the exhibition. Photo / Ben Fraser

"What struck me when I was putting together the stories for the photos was it [The Redwoods] is the perfect place to bring families and nature together, and the perfect place to celebrate children."

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She says there has been many highlights for her over the years.

One of these has been the event's focus on trying to encourage children and young people to be involved in the day in a range of ways - both through art and performance.

She has enjoyed seeing young people who performed at the Redwoods Children's Day go on to further themselves in these areas, such as Strangely Arousing members, and to become volunteers at the event.

"Another highlight has been the increased use of the natural forest. We had that 'ah-ha' moment and started to look at how we could utilise the forest and what it had to offer in the day's activities."

Jill says people used to clear up all the branches which had fallen and make a smooth area for the event, but then the decision was made to leave them there so children could do activities such as hut building.

She says the tree trunks have also been used to hang up canvases and artwork in between them.

Jill has also loved giving children the chance to have their artwork on show, as well as the involvement of community groups and local artists in the event.

"It wouldn't happen without any of these players... we are just so lucky to have it."

She hopes more of the photos from this event will be shared with the community in the future.

Local photographer Natascha Hartzuiker says she has enjoyed seeing and capturing parents interacting with their children at the event.

She says having the photos exhibited is great because not many people have had the chance to see them.

Photographer and arts tutor at Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology Riley Claxton says it feels great to see the photos exhibited.

"It's great to be around children and the creativity that's on show in the forest.

"It's great to be part of documenting it. It's a special time."

He says it is good to draw attention to the creativity of children and the importance of play.

Rotorua Lakes Council public art advisor Marc Spijkerbosch says the Redwoods Children's Day is a fabulous event.

He says it is always wonderful to see so many families enjoying themselves in the forest setting, and that the event gets bigger every year.

"It really is a magical event. It's such a gorgeous setting in our Redwoods."

Marc encourages people to check out the exhibition because there is a feel-good factor to it.

"It showcases a lot of smiling young faces and families enjoying themselves.

"It's our community and showcases a pretty special event."

The exhibition is on display in the Rotorua Lakes Council Galleria (Haupapa St) from 2 November 2018 until 24 January 2019, Monday – Friday from 8am - 5pm (except from 12pm on the 21 December 2018 until 7 January 2018 when the council offices are closed).