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Pop Up Penguins

Christchurch is hosting a very special waddle of visitors over the summer. Families can join the Pop Up Penguins art trail and put their support behind Canterbury.

The Pop Up Penguins public art trail will include 120 penguin sculptures, each decorated by artists and schoolchildren. Wild in Art, the organisation behind Christchurch’s Stands Tall giraffe exhibit in 2014, has partnered with Harcourts to bring these adorable birds to the city hoping to create some smiles and a fresh start for 2021.

Over the weekend of 28 and 29 November, penguin sculptures will be installed across the city from The Terrace to Akaroa and Christchurch Adventure Park to Kaiapoi, and they will be on display for nine weeks over summer.

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For those with smartphones, an official Pop Up Penguins app will be free to download from the App Store and Google Play. App users will be able to search for penguins using an interactive map. 

“In 2014, we wanted to encourage people to get out into the city again after the earthquakes. This time, we want to celebrate all the new places in the city like Christchurch Adventure Park, the Margaret Mahy playground and Tūranga, but also to support the businesses and organisations that have taken a hit this year because of COVID-19,” says Claire Cowles, Event Producer.

At the end of the trail, the penguins will be displayed all together at the Air Force Museum of New Zealand for a Farewell Weekend on 13 and 14 February 2021.

On Tuesday 16 February, the 50 large penguins will be sold at an auction run by Harcourts. From the auction proceeds, 75 per cent will be gifted to the local charity, Cholmondeley Children’s Centre. 

Tanya Cooke, General Manager of Cholmondeley Children’s Centre, reflects on what their involvement with Pop Up Penguins means to the charity, saying, “We are thrilled to be recipients of the funds raised during this fantastic event. It’s about Canterbury families getting out and about in the community and as an organisation that has helped over 30,000 Canterbury families over 95 years; we are delighted to be involved.”

Pop Up Penguins Learning Programme
The Pop Up Penguins learning programme had 65 schools register from across the city and surrounding towns. As schools returned in term two, they received a resource pack. The packs were created in partnership with learning partners:

  • International Antarctic Centre
  • Antarctica NZ
  • Gateway Antarctica
  • Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs
  • College of Education Health and Human Development at the University of Canterbury. 

Students from primary, intermediate and high schools learned about penguin conservation, Christchurch’s status as a gateway to Antarctica and caring for the environment. In term three, the schools received their penguin sculpture and over the following weeks, designed and decorated from their inspiration and imagination.


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