Eileen Mayo

England / Australia / Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1906, d.1994

Kōtuku / White Heron

  • Purchased, 2005
  • Gouache and coloured pencil
  • 94 x 120mm
  • 2005/016
  • 1976

In the exhibition White on White (23 November 2008 - 26 October 2009), this work appeared with the following label:

The kotuku lives in other parts of the world (like Asia and the Pacific), but is very rare in New Zealand, with just one permanent population of 100 to 120 birds found near Okarito in South Westland.

In the past, their beautiful long feathers were worn as head-ornaments by important Maori leaders. Sometimes they would keep a bird in a special cage, so that when a new feather grew, someone was waiting and ready to pull it out!

This painting was one of Eileen Mayo’s original designs for a set of cards (Rare and Endangered Birds of New Zealand) collected from packets of Gregg’s jelly.

earlier labels about this work
  • Ape To Zip: Adventures in Alphabet Art, 13 May 2005 – 8 October 2006

    In the exhibition Ape to Zip (13 May 2005 - 8 October 2006), this work was one of five used for the letter K and was displayed with the following label:

    These paintings were made for a set of Gregg's Jelly cards, ‘Rare and Endangered Birds of New Zealand'. 35 cards were collected in an album, encouraging young New Zealanders to appreciate our precious bird life.

    How many of these birds' names did you already know? Two of them also live on $1 and $2 coins!