High school students join artists in fight for native forests

August 28, 2018

High school students join artists in fight for native forests

Student Aleisha Neary with her kauri woodcut. Photo: supplied

A group of artists has collaborated with students from Pukekohe High School to present an exhibition with environmental themes at the Auckland Botanical Gardens in Manurewa.

Symbiosis & Forest has the Blues is an ecological art show that focusses on the fragility and significance of New Zealand’s native forest remnants.

The artists have explored the relationships and interactions between plants, trees and other organisms.

The project highlights threats the native forest remnants face from the constant incursions of development and urbanisation.

The exhibition also raises issues about the rise of invasive weeds and their smothering regrowth leading to degradation of forest remnants.

The exhibition has been a collaborative project from the outset. Exhibition organisers Toni Hartill, Celia Walker and Toni Mosley were aided by the students of Pukekohe High School, under the guidance of art teacher Esther Hansen.

“Our art department really believes in the value of real world learning opportunities and actively looks for community art projects to work with professional artists.

“I think the project has been a success in terms of their deepening understanding of the issues around native plants and weeds but also of the process of taking part in a professional exhibition,” Ms Hansen said.

According to the Department of Conservation, invasive weeds are transforming the natural landscapes which make New Zealand unique.

These weeds are also killing animals that depend on these native habitats.

Aleisha Neary, one of the year-13 printmaking class students who made prints for the exhibition said: “I feel that a lot of our native bush areas are taken for granted or ignored.

“It is an issue that needs more time and attention. We need to be more active in protecting our native forests."

Organisers have plans to take the exhibition, which is open at the botanical gardens until September 9, to Whangarei.

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