World Wetlands Day 2002: New Zealand


From Dr Philippe Gerbeaux, Senior Technical Support Officer
West Coast Conservancy, Department of Conservation
1 February 2002

Hi all! You will find below some photos of the exhibition to be opened tonight in Hokitika. I have also attached the press release. On Saturday [2 February] we will also have an informal get-together with our southern Maori tribe (Makaawhio) at the mouth of the Mahitahi River, in the heart of NZ wetland country, South Westland.

Among the pictures is a photo of a young Makaawhio boy, Nathanial, who made a "mokihi", a traditional raft made of flax (a wetland plant) sticks for the occasion. There will be more, I am sure, and I will report on this later. Happy WWD on 02.02.02.

06 February 2002

Unique Wetlands Exhibition

The first ever wetlands art exhibition featuring artistic expressions associated with wetlands is opening tonight (Friday 1st February) at 5pm at the Carnegie Building in Hokitika. The Hokitika Arts Group have provided the material for the exhibition.

DOC Freshwater/Wetland specialist Philippe Gerbeaux has initiated this exhibition for World Wetlands Day.

"I have always been interested in arts and when I came to live in Westland, I noticed how much wetlands were a source of inspiration to local artists. I suggested the idea of a wetlands exhibition to the Hokitika Arts Group, and they immediately got very enthusiastic about it," said Mr Gerbeaux.

"What is really impressive about this exhibition is the wide range of wetland types covered. It's just great, and its all thanks to the artists who have contributed their fabulous work," he said

World Wetlands Day is celebrated on 2 February 2002. The day marks the anniversary of the signing of the international "Ramsar" agreement for the protection of wetlands, to which New Zealand is a signatory.

"Safeguarding our wetlands is vitally important. They are part of the rich and complex web of life
They provide the water and food that countless species of plants and animals depend on for survival. What is often not recognised, is that they filter out sediment and toxins, so water leaving a wetland is often much cleaner than when it entered," said Mr Gerbeaux.

This year the focus for World Wetlands Day is the celebration of cultural values of wetlands.

By focusing the celebration on cultural values for World Wetlands Day this year, it is hoped to bring the importance of wetlands closer to people. Wetlands and water have long stimulated the creative talents of humans from the earliest times producing a great wealth of songs, music, dance, art, literature, stories and rituals.

"I am really pleased that the Hokitika Arts Group have got behind the celebration of World Wetlands Day, it's fantastic. The official opening is at 5pm tonight (1st February) and everyone is welcome. The exhibition runs until 28 February," said Mr Gerbeaux.

Eva Crossman with her painting "Camouflage"

"Wetlands", by Hokitika Area Office Ranger Richard Penrose

"White Herons", by Yvonne Rennie

"Lake Mapourika", by Gwen Hutchinson

"Camouflage", by Eva Crossman

"Lake Mahinapua", by Sylvia Ross

"Wetlands to Mt. Alexander", by Fiona Carruthers

"Dusk at Lake Ianthe", by Irene Richards

"Coast Road", by Lyn Coleman

"Okarito Lagoon", by Sylvia Ross

Nathanial Scott with his mokihi, a traditional form of raft

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