If you recently had a chance to walk about the streets of Auckland, you might have come across painted whale tail sculptures. Part of an immersive public art trail, Whale Tales is a unique celebration of art and marine conservation- the largest event of its kind ever held in New Zealand!

The project run by WWF-New Zealand’s Whale Tales along with Wild in Art, Harcourts, Auckland Unlimited and many other sponsors, features 80 Big Broos (large Tail sculptures) and 80 Pepi (mini Tail sculptures) that have been designed and painted by various well-known ad emerging kiwi artists and schools.

Big Broos are already on display around Auckland’s streets, parks, and other public spaces while mini Tails will be launched in mid-March.

The project which launched on 24 January and will be on till 18 April 2022 is aimed at creating awareness and raising money for the endangered Bryde’s whale. Pronounced Broo-dus, Bryde’s whales are found in the coastal waters around the Hauraki Gulf/Tiikapa Moana/Te Moana Nui a Toi.  Unfortunately, they’re now nationally critical, with only 135 remaining.

The stunning Tail sculptures will also disseminate information about the actions that people can take every day for a healthy ocean and thriving marine ecosystem.

At the end of the trail in April, the big sculptures will be auctioned to raise funds for WWF-New Zealand while the mini tails will go to back to the schools

According to Phil Goff, Auckland Mayor, "Whale Tales is not only a chance to celebrate our environment and biodiversity, it’s also an opportunity for all Aucklanders to experience the enrichment that art brings, by taking it out of the gallery and into the outdoors.”

While the project has 80 artists involved in creating the art, we spoke to two of the Indian-origin artists about their involvement in the project.

Deepti Joshi

Deepti is originally from Bangalore with a passion for art. She runs Magpie Studio out of Auckland and works on various art projects including hand-made jewellery, embroidery, painting, etc.

She collaborates regularly with charities and NGOs. When she heard about WWF NZ's call for artists for Whale Tales projects, she readily jumped.

Her artwork is called 'Oceanic Heatmap' and is an artistic illustration of the increasing ocean temperatures globally. This highlights the serious issue linked with climate change impacting not just Auckland but the wider Aotearoa New Zealand too.

Deepti's art is displayed at Olympic Park, New Lynn and is sponsored by Barfoot & Thompson.

Deepti's other work can be seen on her Insta at #magpiestudionz

Bhakti Patel (and Annika Andresen)

Bhakti was born in Wellington with Gujarati roots. Given that she has done MSc in Marine Science and works as a Marine biologist, it is only natural that she is really passionate about life underwater. She is a commercial scientific scuba diver and has voyaged to Rangitahua (Kermadec Islands) twice.

Despite not being professional artists, Bhakti and her mate Annika Andresen spent many hours painting for their art called ‘The Tiny to the Mighty’ which is an appreciation and celebration of plankton. The idea was to highlight how amazing and important plankton are to not only our oceans, but to us. Plankton are the drifting plants and animals that live in our ocean. These are mostly microscopic, so people can’t see them with the naked eye (except large jellyfish). They are so alien looking and beautiful- but most people don’t know they exist!

Plankton are vital to the health of our planet. Every second breath we take comes from plankton in our ocean. Not only do they provide the planet with oxygen, plankton are the base of the oceans food chain.   

Therefore, so save our oceans, we must protect the “Tiny to the Mighty”- the namesake of our sculpture.

‘From the Tiny to the Mighty’ is sponsored by Auckland Museum

The Whale Tales 2022 app, featuring the trail map, sponsor deals, activities, and a whole lot more is available. Download via the App Store or Google Play.