Oceans between us: WWF-NZ gets creative to up marine reserve ante

New Zealand’s territorial waters are 15 times larger than our land mass, but just 0.3 percent of that area is fully protected in marine reserves, compared to around 20 percent of our land with equivalent status. And as part of a campaign to change this unbalanced attitude and eventually get 30 percent of our waters signed up as marine reserves, the WWF and its agency partner Ocean Design have enlisted some of the country’s leading creative minds to share their views on what New Zealand’s seas mean to them. And it’s asking Kiwis to do the same. Given the recent events in Christchurch and Japan, it’s certainly a difficult time for cause marketing to cut through, but to help publicise the campaign, six New Zealand artists have collaborated with six leading New Zealanders from the worlds of film, visual art, music and creative writing and created portraits expressing their subject’s connection to the ocean (Sarah Larnach illustrated musician Ladyhawke, Liam Gerrard drew musician Hollie Smith, Dick Frizzell and his son Otis Frizzell created a portrait of each other, Anna Paquin’s was drawn by Jordan Barnes, although the deal struck with her management means it can’t be used online, and poet Bill Manhire was portrayed by Kelly Thompson).

There are also plenty more auto-biographical entries about connections to the sea from the likes of Lloyd Jones, David Farrier, Craig Potton, Kim Westerkov and Tessa Rain, and it’s hoped these stories and artworks will inspire New Zealanders to reflect on their own connections and submit a creative work as part of the Ocean:View competition.

The competition consists of four categories—music, visual art, creative writing, and short film—and people are invited to enter online at www.wwf.org.nz/oceans (the deadline for entries is 15 April). Collectively, WWF-New Zealand executive director Chris Howe says the works will be a unique expression of New Zealanders’ attitude to the waters that surround our islands and the winning works will be exhibited on World Oceans Day.

“It’s about positive reinforcement of what we value. Our seas are in the safest hands when New Zealanders feel an increased sense of ownership. The best means of achieving this is to focus not on what we’ve lost but by celebrating what we have,” Howe says. “…Our oceans are a central part of what it means to be a New Zealander and we hope to inspire New Zealanders from all walks of life to reflect on their own connection to the sea… The greatest threat to the Ocean is taking it for granted. That’s why we’re wanting to celebrate it to the utmost.”

Howe says one of the main goals of the Ocean Views campaign is to draw attention to the disparity between the protection of land and sea and also highlight the fact that the majority of New Zealanders (and WWF-New Zealand) want more protection for our oceans.

“In 2005, Colmar Brunton research commissioned by WWF found 90 percent of New Zealanders believed the area of New Zealand’s marine reserves was greater than it actually was. When asked how much they thought should be protected, on average, people said they felt 36 percent of our oceans should be in marine reserves.”




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