Whales tails: protecting our moana 

March 10, 2022

Whales tails: protecting our moana  Whales tails: protecting our moana 
Whale Tales Art Trail

If you’ve been out for a hīkoi along the Tāmaki Path lately and gone passed Marist Rugby Club, or popped a Manu off the wharf at the Panmure Yacht Club, you may have seen a big sculpture of a Whale’s tail. It’s part of a big kaupapa celebrating Aotearoa art, and marine conservation called Whales Tales.  

The large tail is one of 80 Big Broos around Tāmaki Makaurau. There will also be a flock of Pēpi Pods (little tails) painted by Panmure Bridge Primary School, Pt England School, and Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Puau te Moananui a Kiwa. Tāmaki Regeneration Company has supported the event which is run by Auckland Unlimited and WWF NZ.  



One of the amazing features of the app are the amazing rewards you can unlock by entering a 4-digit code found on the sculpture. This year, for every person that heads down to the tail at the Panmure Wharf Reserves and enters that code, TRC will donate $1 to the Local Waka Ama Club – Tāmaki Outriggers Canoe Club.  



‘Recharting the Gulf’ is the name of the tail at the wharf, and it was designed by local artist Philippa Bentley. The sculpture re-imagines and re-charts the Hauraki Gulf’s maps and seas. The concept of the design is about working with and caring for the Moana and Whenua. 

Philippa says, “I wanted to say let’s look at things in a different way. We’re not above it or separate from it, we’re not observing it, we’re not using it and taking what we want, we’re actually part of the ecosystem.” 

She’s incorporated aspects of Te ao Māori – The Māori World view that resonates with her own beliefs and passion. She believes that the Hauraki Gulf and many of its taonga are places where people can rightfully stand, relating to Tūrangawaewae. It’s perhaps her inspiration from Mother Earth that is best depicted in her paintings, “I think they’re all natural concepts for me that have come through my work. I wanted to convey that (Te ao Māori). Looking at my works with the painted human landforms, I have instantly gone “Papatūānuku”. 



One design feature of Philippa’s that’s painted on both sides of Tail near the bottom is the Dolfish which is a half-Dolphin, half-Fish. She has a special app that people can use. They point it at the Dolfish and it comes to life using Augmented Reality, as she explains, “It literally adds to reality. It’s become my signature on the paintings on the sea charts.” 

Whales Tales runs until May the 1st. The app is available to download on your smartphone with all the information on all the sculptures and when the Pēpi Pods will launch. The tails will be auctioned off at the end of the event with proceeds going to WWF NZ.