Cantabrian mural celebrates annual 11,000km migration

Artist Robert Scanlan has unveiled his award-winning mural titled ‘Southern Migration of the Godwit’ in New Brighton, Christchurch.

Mr Scanlan was one of ten winners from across the country who took out the top prize in Keep New Zealand Beautiful’s Resene Nature Mural Competition 2023.

The mural is painted on a long exterior fence of the New Brighton Community Gardens, visible from the road and to people in Rawhiti Domain and on a nearby walkway. Consisting of seven separate images, the mural depicts and celebrates the nesting and dangerous annual migration of the Godwit across an increasingly polluted ocean, concluding with the arrival of the bird in a peaceful and clean estuary in Aotearoa.

The first two murals depict the nesting godwit with her chicks, with predators and dangers in the background. The next three panels showcase the godwit’s 11,000km migration from Alaska to Aotearoa – the longest known non-stop flight of any bird – passing oil rigs, polluted beaches and fishing craft. The final two panels see the birds landing in a relatively predator-free South Brighton estuary, sharing their new environment with pukeko, native gulls, herons and shags. In addition, each panel will also have interpretative text added to describe the journey to viewers.

The edge of each panel has purposely been left rough, to make it look more organic than a crisp finished edge. The oil rigs depicted in the middle panels are drawn freehand to look organic, with jellyfish-like pylons going into the ocean.

The panels celebrate the migration of the godwit, which can fly further than any other known bird (1). Fueling up ahead of time, the birds can double their body weight in fat to make the huge non-stop journey. The birds fly to and from various estuaries in New Zealand, including in the Manawatū, Miranda, Golden Bay, Christchurch, Otago and Southland, in March before flying to eastern Asian estuaries and onward to Alaska. In September and October, the birds then return to New Zealand on a non-stop flight across the Pacific Ocean, taking 7–9 days.


About the Resene Nature Mural Competition 

The Resene Nature Mural Competition, which is part of the Keep New Zealand Beautiful’s Paint New Zealand Beautiful programme, ran from April to June 2023. Community members were called on to submit environmentally-themed mural designs to paint on a wall in their local community. Artists from around the country sent in their designs, with the top ten murals selected in June based on their environmental message, enhancement of the community, originality and creativity. Winners had up to 12 months to bring their mural to life.

Winning artists received a $1,000 commission once the mural is completed, along with a $750 Resene paint voucher and other materials to bring their designs to life.

Keep New Zealand Beautiful CEO Heather Saunderson says: “Our Resene Nature Mural Competition provides a great opportunity for artists to beautify their local communities. The beautification of public spaces greatly benefits communities by increasing civic pride, deterring vandalism and reducing anti-social behaviour such as littering and graffiti.

We were impressed with the dozens of high-calibre entries we received, so much so that narrowing the selection to just ten winners was a tough task! We’re thrilled to see the end result of Robert’s mural coming to life.

Since its inception in 2017, there have been 57 Nature Murals commissioned as a result of the programme.

The ten winning artists and regions are listed below, and the designs can be viewed here.

  • – Brigita Botma (Coromandel Town): Give a Hoot, Don’t Pollute
  • – Sylvie Currin (Kaitaia): Kauri, Spirit of Resilience
  • – Terri Donaldson (Maungaturoto): The Creatures of Kaipara
  • – Mel Eaton (Christchurch): Floating with Whio
  • – Natasha Fitzpatrick (Auckland): Protect us
  • – Stan Mans (Hastings): Breath of Life
  • – Melisa Nocelli (Arrowtown): Where Wildlife Matters
  • – Kiran Parbhu (Wellington): The Birds and the Bees (and all the pollinators in between!)
  • – Romina Romero (Auckland): Pukapuka o Tamaki (Lungs of Auckland)
  • – Robert Scanlan (Christchurch): The Southern Migration of the Godwit

Mr Scanlan’s mural is located on the side of the New Brighton Community Gardens, 136 Shaw Avenue, and faces the Rawhiti Domain. He used Resene paints in the design of his mural.

View a map of all Keep New Zealand Beautiful’s Resene Nature Murals here.

Keep New Zealand Beautiful, a charity empowering young minds with invaluable environmental education, says they ...

Omoda Jaecoo, New Zealand’s newest car brand launched in Auckland last week, announcing a ...

Congratulations to Natasha Duncan-Sutherland of Māngere Bridge, Auckland, our March Tidy Kiwi Volunteer of ...

Iconic Kiwi charity Keep New Zealand Beautiful today announced its partnership with one of Aotearoa’...