What’s large, colourful, hand-knitted, a New Zealand icon and can be seen lying around at Canberra’s National Arboretum? It’s the world’s largest knitted kiwi bird!
Measuring 20 metres by 14 metres, the flightless bird is the handiwork of hundreds of volunteers ranging in age from school-aged to 104 and coming from as far away as the United Kingdom.
Located at the Arboretum’s events terrace, the kiwi is a sight to see with its whiskers alone measuring 2.5 metres in length. It is aptly named ‘Mahana’, which means warmth.
Given that kiwis are normally the size of a domestic chicken, it seems that this woolly Aussie version must be on steroids but it is certainly doing its job in promoting our New Zealand neighbours and adding some holiday fun to the Arboretum.
The kiwi bird has gone on display this month as part of the 2018 Warm Trees Installation which includes crocheted ferns, hand-crafted pohutukawa flowers, and the annual display of dozens of colourful scarves wrapped around tree trunks.
The Friends of the Arboretum and the New Zealand High Commission worked together to create the giant bird with a mosaic of colourful scarves.
New Zealand High Commissioner Chris Seed said the High Commission was thrilled to be able to partner with the Friends and National Arboretum in this way.
“It’s not every day you are asked if it is okay to build a giant 20 metre by 14 metre knitted Kiwi at the National Arboretum. This is an exciting opportunity to showcase a little bit of New Zealand at one of Canberra’s leading national attractions,” said Mr Seed.
“We also have a Matariki display inside the Village Centre. Matariki is the celebration of Maori New Year and it is wonderful to be able to share this special time of year for New Zealanders with National Arboretum visitors.”
Venues Canberra director, Liz Clarke, welcomed the partnership which showcases New Zealand’s culture and the work of hundreds of knitters from Australia and across the world.
“Warm Trees has evolved to draw inspiration from a different embassy each year and it’s so exciting to be featuring some of New Zealand’s icons this winter,” said Ms Clarke.
“We have hundreds of volunteers sending knitted goods from across the country, and even as far as New Zealand and the United Kingdom,” Ms Clarke said.
The installation runs until August 5 this year.
During the school holidays, there are related free activities for children to take part in including drop-in knitting sessions and New Zealand cultural workshops, as well as Walking with the Wollemi for $15 per child (aged 7-12). For more information go to www.nationalarboretum.act.gov.au.