In Search of a Flock of Sheep

By Insider – Suzanne Peri-Chapman

I’ve been reliably informed that somewhere in Auckland there is a flock of sheep on display. Not just any old sheep, mind, but larger-than-life, individually painted fibreglass sheep. As a Kiwi who’s come back to the Home Country for Rugby World Cup 2011, I’m okay with embracing and subverting the stereotype the rest of the world has of us and our woolly friends.

From the Waka to the Pah and Beyond is a delightful series of large-scale outdoor creative works, and part of HeART of the Nation which is all about showcasing Auckland’s creativity and culture. Both events are part of the nationwide REAL New Zealand Festival that runs alongside Rugby World Cup 2011.

These wacky sheep and welcoming messages can be seen from the earth or from the sky – simply amazing!

I found them in a paddock (where else?) near the airport, on Puhinui Road, in the Memorial Gardens. You can see them from the road, but they’re worth a closer inspection than a high-speed, whiz-by.

Waka to the Pah: colourful sheep

The theme is broadly Kiwi – no surprises there, but there are all sorts of interpretations, including one that puts to bed the argument about the origin of the Pavlova once and for all.

More colourful artworks/sheep with food on them!

See? Sheep with Kiwi Food on it, pavlova in the middle, so – no contest Aussies; it’s ours.

Waka to the Pah: sheep heads!

Waka to the Pah: sheep bottoms!

They are so close to the airport that they can be seen from the air, as these passengers may have noticed. Who knows – there could have been a Rugby team on the flight…

Waka to the Pah - Kiwiana

Speaking of flying and looking at things other than the back of the seat in front of you, there are also Welcome messages all over the place, designed to be seen from the air. The fact that they are designed to be seen from the air goes some way to explaining why I couldn’t get a photo of this whole “Bienvenue” sign, even when standing on a nearby pile of mulch.

HeART of the Nation: one of the 20 welcome signs for RWC 2011 teams

These have been made by kids, and with a creative use of recycling: the letters are made up of painted pieces of plastic cartons.

Back to the sheep… there was a small child peering out from behind this one… note: it’s possible the child is not part of the permanent exhibition, so don’t expect to see it there when you visit.

Apparently this is only half the flock, the rest are being rounded up (in my imagination anyway) by a large, brightly-coloured, individually painted Shepherd, and a couple of large, brightly-coloured, individually painted dogs, (also imaginary) and they will join the rest of the gang in October, to be displayed elsewhere in Auckland. Loads of imagination has gone into this project, its fun, free and really useful if you have overseas visitors and you want to explain Kiwi culture to them – its all there, painted on the sides of the sheep.

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