20 Nov 2021

Aroha Novak: sewing shadows of our native plant past

From Saturday Morning, 9:47 am on 20 November 2021

When Christchurch’s Hagley Park was created in the late 19th century native plants such as ferns, cabbage trees and flax were replaced by English plants like beech, elm and oak. As part of the Scape Public Art Season 2021, Dunedin artist Aroha Novak is presenting The Native Section, nine hand-embroidered billboards surrounding the park. The billboards depict removed indigenous flora and reference both Māori and European ways of remembering ​and cataloguing — whakataukī and botanical drawings.  

Novak works as a public artist drawing attention to her sites’ cultural and environmental history. Previous projects include The Brook Project, an installation at the decommissioned sports stadium Carisbrook, and a Timaru mural of tī kōuka (the cabbage tree), referencing its significance in the area. Novak has just completed a project with children at Port Chalmers School Dunedin, presenting flora and fauna from the forest floor. You can see a video of the results here.

Head over here for a guide to the Scape Public Art Season 2021.