The Park Sept 2014

The beehives at the heart of the Pollen Park

Visit the bees beside the skate ramps in Victoria Park, Auckland city.

See the six beehives sitting within the Pasture Painting  planted in mustard and calendula in full bloom.



Winter flowers for a Pollen Hotel

As spring arrives lots of flowers start to appear and so does the food for bees. However in winter food can be scarce for bees. Here are a few things you can plant in your garden to provide food for bees in winter when they really need it.

Calendula grows really well from seed. They provide lots of flowers all year round that bees love.

Borage also grow well from seed. They are blue and have a single petal arrangement, which are easy for honey bees to forage from.

Nasturtiums thrive in winter if you don’t get frosts.

Herbs like Rosemary, Thyme, Chamomile, Lemon Balm, Sage, Oregano, Lavender and Mint provide an abundance of flowers all year round.

Forage peas, Lupins and Broad beans are manure crops that will provide food for bees in winter while preparing your garden for the next spring.

The New Zealand native Hebe comes in many colours and is an excellent winter food source for bees.

Koanga Seeds produce a beneficial seed blend called Herbal Ley full of plants that produce food for bees including Alfalfa, Phacelia, Buckwheat, White Lupin, Daikon, Radish, Rape seed, Red Clover, Subterranean Clover, White clover, Yarrow, Plantain and Chicory.

King Seeds have put together several beneficial seed blends of plants that produce food for bees. One called Beneficial Insect Blend includes Buckwheat, Dill, Bishops Flower, Parsnip, Fennel, Bergamot and White Alyssum. Another called Bring on the Bees is full of Anise Hyssop, Bergamot, Bee Balm, Borage, Echium Blue Bedder and Phacelia Lacy. A blend called Wildflower Pollinator includes Rudbeckia, Thyme, Red Clover, Phacelia, Echium, Salvia, Cornflower, and European Poppy.

For more ideas of what plants to grow to provide food for bees check out this website.

If you are going to grow your plants from seed check out our post on what seeds to use as not all seeds sold in New Zealand are safe for bees.


A few wonderful facts about bees

Did you know that the distinctive buzzing sound of the honeybee is formed from the honeybee’s wings fluttering at 11.400 times per second.

Bees can really only see four colours – yellow, blue, blue-green and ultraviolet but they can smell really well and love the scents that come from thyme, citrus and roses.

Each honey bee will only make 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in its life time.

Honey bees dance to communicate to each other where good food sources are. This is called the waggle dance. It comprises of two main parts that scientists understand. The waggle dance always involves a figure 8 movement. But this figure 8 configuration changes depending on  1. The location of the sun to the honeybee at the time the honey bee first locates the food source  2. The distance or time needed to travel to get to this food source. Scientists also think the waggle may differ depending on the quality of the food source but as this is a qualitative not quantitive quality it much more difficult to prove.

Youtube video

Pollen hotel - viaduct 1

Epic Pollen Hotels in Wynyard Quarter become a Pollen Hotspot

The entire length of the western side of Darby Street in the heart of Wynyard Quarter is lined with wooden planter boxes full of flowers and edible plants that together comprise many square meters of food for bees.  Each of these planter boxes is a Pollen Hotel.

Alongside these planter boxes, thousands of New Zealand natives have been planted that line the entire street.  Canopy trees  like Pohutukawa, Kowhai and lower growing plants like Harakeke( NZ flax). They are planted in such density that in spring they will suddenly provide an abundant amount of pollen and nectar for bees.

Together these edible and native plantings provide a sustainable food source for bees all year round making a sizable contribution to The Park.

Darby Street has transformed into a Pollen Hotspot.

All of the plants for this  landscape project come entirely from stock grown by the nursery owned and run by local iwi Ngati Whatua 0 Orakei at Takaparawhau ( Bastion Point).

This Nursery initiative provides a real way for the local iwi to revive its traditional connections with the land.


when good flowere turn bad 2

Making sure the flowers you grow don’t harm bees

Many common garden sprays, and pyrethrum before it has dried, can be harmful to bees. Some systemic pesticides and fungicides are even being directly linked to colony collapse.

All labels on gardening products do tell you if they are safe for bees or not and warn not to spray when bees are about. Some of these products are systemic pesticides and fungicides which means their active ingredient remains in the plant tissue well after the spray has been applied. Traces of these residual chemicals remain in the plant and the nectar and pollen it produces. When bees and other pollinators gather the nectar and pollen from these poisoned plants they are exposed. This exposure can result in paralysis and even death of the bee. The death of bees is collateral damage of these applications.

The systemic insecticide family called Neonicotinoid is designed to effect the central nervous system of insects causing paralysis before death. It is the most widely used insecticide in the world and has been directly linked to colony collapse disorder. Germany, France, Italy, Poland, the Netherlands, Slovenia and the State of Oregon in the USA have banned or restricted its use but here in New Zealand its use is prevalent and alarming since bee numbers are in serious decline.

Neonicotinoid in sprays and coated onto seeds are toxic to bees in very low concentrations. It doesn’t make sense to use chemicals which kill bees when there are so many effective chemical free alternatives to deal with the grubs, aphids and other insects.

A pollen hotel can be a great food source for a bee, but when a flower has residual systemic chemicals within it, it becomes a bee death trap.

Read this recent article for more in-depth discussion on Neonicotinoids.

We will be doing more posts on products that are detrimental to bees and alternatives that are bee friendly.

Also check out the post on What seeds are safe for bees?

makethepaark- a pollen hotel you can eat

A Pollen Hotel you can eat

Vegetables fruits and herbs all produce flowers with pollen and nectar that will help you create amazing pollen hotels.  Some produce more than others.  Some of the best producers are stone and pip fruit like citrus and plums.  Berries are good too, and strawberries are so easy to grow in a small space.  From the vegetable family you can rely on beans, tomatoes, aubergines, capsicums, chillies, melons, courgettes, pumpkins, cucumbers, peas and jerusalem artichokes. If you allow sliver beet, spinach, broccoli, fennel, celery, parsley, artichokes, onions, and leeks to go to seed they will become an entire pollen hotel all on their own producing an abundant amount of food for bees before turning into seed you can use next season. Herbs that produce food for bees include thyme, rosemary, mint, lemon balm, oregano, chamomile and sage. Great flowering companion plants you can eat include calendular, sunflowers, borage.  If you only have a tiny space we recommend planting thyme, rosemary, oregano you will be amazed at how much pollen these small plants provide bees.

bee on rosemary 2

The difference between pollen and nectar

Nectar is a sweet solution of sugars produced by the plant which is what bees collect to make honey. Flowers make this nectar to ensure bees get close enough to their male anthers which are covered in pollen, the powder you see on the bees back and legs. The flower needs the bee to transport this pollen to its female companion in order for fertilization to take place so it can produce a fruit. It is this process that ensures we get the vegetables and fruits and grains we love to eat.

who is making The Park- Annie Rowntree

People who are making The Park

Who is making The Park? Those who live and work in the Waitemata are encouraged to participate in plotting pollen hotels on The Park map. In doing so, The Park map will assist us in visualising the amount of food available for these bees in our urban environment, the bees’ potential flight path, and our collective action.

There are currently about 160,000 bees in the six bench beehives in Victoria Park. Collectively these hives have the capacity to produce 210 kilos of honey, however, the bees need lots of food in order to reach this target. Those who plot a pollen hotel on The Park map  will be invited to collect some of the honey they supported to make at harvesting time.

Annie Rowntree who lives in Freeman’s Bay noticed five honey bees on one flowering brassica this week. She recounts only having seen four over the past six months in her garden. Annie is letting all her vegetables go to seed as they seem to be providing lots of food for bees foraging in her garden. The flowers on her vegetables feeding the bees will also provide her with safe seeds she can trust for her next growing season.

What are you growing that is feeding bees? Check out our posts on planting suggestions for Pollen Hotels and help make The Park.

Monarch butterfly

A Pollen Hotel for a bee may also feed butterflies

Pollen Hotels we collectively build to make The Park, that will feed the bees located in Victoria Park, may also be providing a much needed food source for other pollinators including butterflies.

The Monach Butterfly New Zealand Trust have a list of plants that provide food for butterflies up on their website.  So if you want to attract butterflies to your Pollen Hotel consider using some of the following plants.

Calendula, Alyssum, Bottlebrush, Candytuft, Cape Marigold, Chrysanthemum, Cineraria, Cleome, Cockscomb, Sweet William, Gaillardia, Hebes, Kaikorua Rock Daisy, Mexican Sunflower, Osteospermum, Echium, Echinacea, Rudbeckia, Salvia, Snapdragon, Valerian, Verbena, Wallflower, Zinnia.

The MBNZT runs courses on how to develop butterfly habitats. The next one they are doing is in June. Think about doing it to learn how to make a Pollen Hotel. Then post a photo of your new Pollen Hotel on the map at and help make The Park.

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Beehive update #1- 17th, May 2014

Julian McCurdy from Beezthingz checked the hives for the first time and reported back saying “from the photo you can see all the uncapped cells are full of new “wet” honey which means that the bees are finding food. All in all, so far so good.”

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Local raw honey may help hay fever

There are many reasons for wanting to eat honey made by bees in the area you live.

“The benefits of eating raw honey are largely due to the fact that raw honey contains proteins and enzymes that the body uses to rebuild cells. Additionally, in its raw form honey contains pollen, which is responsible for the anti-bacterial and immune boosting properties. However, once heat treated the pollen is destroyed and the immune boosting properties are significantly reduced.

Many people who suffer from hay fever have found this can be reduced or can cease altogether once they introduce local raw honey gradually into their diet. The idea is that bees become covered in pollen spores when they travel from one flower to the next. These spores are then transferred to their honey. It is thought that eating that honey, even just a spoonful a day, can build immunity through gradual exposure and work in the body like a natural vaccine.

Be aware in some cases honey itself can trigger severe allergic reactions, including anaphylactic shock. So do not attempt to use honey if you’ve ever experienced an adverse reaction in the past. Use it sparingly until you’ve confirmed that you can tolerate it.”

Kate from Food as Medicine 

Sprays that harm bees

Products that harm bees or other things…including us.

Yates-Confidor-Ready to use Insecticide (registered to Bayer distributed by Yates)label states-Harmful to terrestrial invertebrates. Toxic to Bees. Avoid contact with skin and inhalation of spray mist. Has a 3 day holding period when sprayed on food.

Kiwicare-Spectrum label states-Store away from foodstuffs, children. Avoid contact with skin and inhalation of spray. Wash hands and exposed skin after use. Do not use around food or animal feed producing plants. Harmful to aquatic life. Do not spray on flowers if they are likely to be visited by bees.

Yates-Natures Way-Pyrethrum Is a natural insect spray but is harmful to bees if they make contact with it when its wet.

Yates-Soil Insect Killer label states-This products may be harmful if swallowed, absorbed by the skin or inhaled. May impair human fertility and the nervous system of the unborn child if taken orally in repeated high doses. Harmful to mammals, birds, insects, earthworms, bees and aquatic life.

Yates-Natures Way-Insect and Mite Spray label states-May cause  irritation to skin and eyes. May be slightly harmful to the aquatic life.

Yates-Natures Way-Fungus Spray label states-The material maybe harmful if swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through the skin. May cause eye irritation and an allergic reaction following skin contact. May harm the digestive system or liver if taken orally at repeated high doses. very toxic to aquatic life and may harm mammals and birds.

Enviro Shield-Residual insecticide stays active for weeks-Deadly to insects Kind to the environment label states-Toxic to fish. Harmful if swallowed…inhaled. May cause skin and eye irritation. Do not spray near food.

Yates-Champ DP Copper Fungicide label states-This product is corrosive and may cause sever eye irritation and eye damage. May be harmful if swallowed, inhaled or absorbed by the skin. Harmful to the lungs through prolonged or repeated exposure at high doses. May cause skin irritation or an allergic skin reaction. Very toxic to the aquatic environment. Toxic to fish. Harmful to mammals and birds.

Yates-Copper Oxychloride label states-Harmful if swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through the skin. May cause  severe eye irritation. May harm digestive  system or liver if taken orally at repeated doses. Very toxic to aquatic life, mammals and birds. Do not allow drift over aquatic environment, or onto other crops. May cause harm to soft plant tissue…may russet fruit.Keep children, pets, wildlife and birds away from treated areas until spray is dry.

Yates-Blitzhem Pellets-Kills slugs and snails label states-Do not apply to edible plants. On pasture withhold stock for seven days. Maybe harmful if swallowed. Mild eye irritant. May impair human fertility or cause damage to the unborn child, liver or digestive system if taken orally at repeated high doses. Maybe slightly harmful to the aquatic environment. Keep pets off treated areas. Accidental poisoning may be fatal.

Yates-Baysol Snail and  Slug Bait label states- May be harmful if swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through skin.May cause organ damage from repeated oral exposure. Toxic to aquatic life. Toxic to terrestrial vertebrates. Harmful to terrestrial invertebrates. May be harmful to soil environment.

The Glyphosate based products below don’t give you much information at all on their labels. This interview however explains how it works and what effect it has.

Monsanto-Roundup label states-Avoid contact with eyes and avoid breathing spray mist. When spraying wear suitable boots and cotton overalls. Wash exposed skin before meals and after work. Wash clothing after use. Avoid contaminating water supply with the chemical or empty container. Avoid contact with desirable plants and if accidentally sprayed hose off immediately to reduce injury.

Kiwicare-Weed Weapon Dead To The Roots Dead Quick label states-Do not use around fruit vines, avocados or sensitive plants. Avoid spray contact with foliage, new bark or near roots of desirable plants. Do not use around food or animal feed producing plants. Avoid contamination of waterways. Avoid contact with eyes and skin and inhalation of spray.

Yates-Zero Rapid 1-Hour Action Weedkiller label states-This substance may be harmful if swallowed or inhaled. May cause eye irritation or mild skin irritation…designed for biocidal action against plants. Avoid contamination of any water supply or fishponds…do not allow drift onto plants you do not want killed.

McGregors-Weedout-General Weed Control Data Sheet states-Toxic to aquatic organisms. Avoid contact with eyes and skin. Avoid inhaltion of spray mist. If swallowed may cause burning sensation in throat and chest, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea….substance may bioaccumulate

The Park - 14th may small res

A powerful blessing followed by a call for pollen hotels

The Parks central point was fully activated with a powerful and heart warming karakia given by Rereata Makiha and Otene Reweti from Auckland Council’s Te Waka Angamua team, in an early morning blessing ceremony on the 3rd of May 2014. As we gathered on the western side of the hives and looked towards the first light the vibrations of Otene’s karakia energized the bees so they began to spiral high up into the air space above the hives. The intention of this blessing was to honor the historical and contemporary kaitiaiki and guardianship the local iwi have in this city and to ask them to bring this knowledge of custodianship to us all so we might also become effective protectors and caretakers of these bees.

These bees require respect within the hexagonal space in Victoria park but they also need support within the greater Waitemata. Winter is a tough time for all bees in the city. This project hopes to amplify this issue and inspire people to transform this reality by very simply planting a pollen hotel be it large or small, and to post a photo of it on the map. This will help visualise the difference this collective action makes. Leave an email contact when  you add a pollen hotel and we will contact you and let you know when you can come and get some of the honey you helped nurture.

bee on calendular 1

Bee – collector and producer

The Bee as a collector sources two elements produced by the flower, Nectar and Pollen.

The Nectar, is sought out and gathered intentionally to bring back to the hive to make honey. Using tiny hooks on its feet the bee is able to attach itself to the flower so it can use its tongue to suck out the nectar within the flower. The bee uses a small part of this nectar as food for itself but the bulk of it is returned to the hive where it is spat out and stored as what we know as honey.

The Pollen is gathered incidentally due to the bodily structure and organization of the bee. As the tiny hairs on the body and legs of the bee brush against the stamen (the male reproductive organ of the flower) pollen is unwittingly captured and brought back to the hive where it is stored away or consumed.

The Bee as a producer processes these two collected elements and uses his own body to create an entirely new substance called wax. Using this new product produced by himself the bee is able to build elongated hexagonal cells in order to store an egg or food supplies for the future.


Pasture Painting – under the center of The Park

A beehive is made up of many vessels that appear from above to be a hexagon. It reality they are many elongated hexagonal shapes which fit together perfectly so that they become one large surface cell we refer to as the honeycomb.

It is absolutely remarkable how honeybees manage to make this structure perfectly every time. Very rarely in nature do cells fit so cohesively without any spaces in between them.

Other six sided forms that occur in nature are Quartz crystals. Although these are rarely perfectly symmetrical.

Our singular hexagonal Pasture Painting has been configured on the north-south axis, starting from the northern point. In only a matter of days six bench bee hives with green roofs will be placed within this form and welcomed with an early morning Bee-Blessing.

A six sided dwelling for six hives intended to elicit a harmonic to support thousands of healthy bees.

hexagonal preparation 1

Preparing ground to welcome our six bench beehives

The Western side of Victoria Park will become base camp for the six bench beehives that are the central focus of the public sculpture The Park. We are creating a Pasture Painting in the shape of a Hexagonal over which these six hives will be placed. We are lucky as the ground under this hexagonal form is topsoil that was recently placed here as part of the tunnel development. Our preparation for this Pasture Painting includes getting our chemical free weed control partners Biothermal to hot water spray the space inside the hexagonal. This process uses water at a consistent temperature of 98 degrees to instantly kill the plants cells in the same way that a intensive burn effects our skin. This has a sweet smell a bit like boiling spinach. The sun assists with the dehydration process that follows which transforms the green space into a brown space within hours. Microbiology within cm of the surface is effected but there is no residual chemicals left in the space at all and no flight bound creatures need worry about any chemical particles which will harm them. We will inoculate this space with microbiology as we scatter seeds using Nutri-Life Network-AMF with Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi and Trichoderma from Franko Solutions in Silverdale. We will also use BioHome Garden a microbiological liquid concentrate supplied by Bio Organic Solutions Ltd several times in the first couple of weeks to help support our seedlings.

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Vertical pollen hotels help make The Park

Over several weeks in April kids from High Schools in the Waitemata worked with the The Roots-Creative Entrepreneurs inventing new and innovative ideas for vertical pollen hotels that could create more pollen space in our urban environment to support bees.

Using only recycled and natural materials such as tyres, drinking bottles and bamboo these designs worked through problems like how to capture water and maximize its retention and flow for the plants they were to hold. Taking into consideration how easy it might be for others to replicate their designs the project looked to give these kids a creative problem to solve where their solutions might inspire others to have a go.

These pollen hotels are hanging in Albert park for the last week of April and the first weekend of May under the public sculpture Walking in Trees by artist Richard Orjis. After that they will be donated to some lucky people in Waitemata where they will continue to help make The Park.

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New Zealand native plants that produce food for bees

The ti kouka (cabbage tree), harakeke (flax), kanuka, manuka, hebe , karo, pohutukawa, rewarewa, kaihua (NZ jasmine), puawhananga (NZ Clematis), kumarahou, kohuhu and wharangi are all good food sources for bees. However most of these plants tend to produce an abundance of food for bees for only a small period of the year.  It is useful to think about other plants you can introduce into these environments that will produce nectar in these intervals so that bees can source nectar all year round.  Many bee-keepers resort to feeding their hives sugar to deal with these barren periods. It is of course better if bees can get their food supply in natural ways to remain as healthy as possible.

Environmental art

There is a history of artists making public artworks that address environmental issues. In 1982 German artist Joseph Beuys conceived 7000 Oaks in Kassel Germany. In the same year American artist Agnes Denes created the artwork called Wheatfield – A Confrontation in New York. This work involved her planting and cropping two acres of wheat in downtown Manhattan. Denes examined the natural cycles of growth and regeneration. Her stated purpose was to call “people’s attention to having to rethink their priorities.” She constructed the Wheatfield on a landfill near the World Trade Center, an unlikely spot for crop production.

Typically, a park is a designated space for recreation, sport, leisure; or conservation segregated from the urban living environment. A park is a defined and enclosed physical space. The Park that we are proposing you help us make is not physically located in a single space – but is made up of many private contributions, dispersed across the city. When many private contributions are connected they become a common and collective space – The Park.

The Park attempts to be an public sculpture that is not an illustration of environmental issues – but an active solution that has the potential to generate a sense of community, pride and public ownership.

The history of the idea Social Sculpture

The concept of social sculpture was created by German artist Joseph Beuys in the 1960’s who proposed sculpture could be the community itself – shaping their society or their environment by using language, thoughts, actions, and objects.

A famous example of his work is 7000 Oaks conceived in 1982 in which he proposed planting 7000 sapling oaks next to 7000 1.2 meter high basalt rock makers in the city of Kassel Germany.  That year 7000 Basalt rocks were dumped onto a lawn outside an exhibition building in Kassel.  The community of Kassel were then invited to decide where these trees would be planted in their city. After five years the 7000 rocks were finally planted next to the saplings and no longer sat outside the exhibition building. Today you can see these trees towering all over Kassel as well as New York where the project was extended by The Dia Foundation.

What and where is The Park?

The Park is a conceptual space and idea that becomes real through community participation. By creating a pollen hotel and posting a photo of it on our map you can help turn the Waitemata into a pollen hotspot. This pollen hotspot will secure a food source for our six beehives placed in Victoria Park this winter. When you make a pollen hotel you also help create The Park which is the space our bees will travel to source nectar to make their honey. When the six hives are harvested the honey that has been made will be available to everyone who has helped nurture its creation.

makethepark-hotwater spray 1

Non chemical weed control…what are my options?

We are testing two different ways of getting rid of competing grass and weeds as part of preparing the ground for the Pasture Paintings. One of these systems is hot water spraying. This system developed by Biothermal has been used successfully for weed control on the North Shore of Auckland for some years. It works and offers an earth friendly weed control solution that is not harmful to us or bees.

Very soon Biothermal they will have units available for sale here in New Zealand  that are capable of 45 minutes of electric free hot water spraying which will allow people to have tidy and chemical free gardens.

Keep an eye on our seven Pasture Paintings as they pop up around the perimeter of the Waitemata and make up your mind for yourself.


Biothermal – a chemical free commitment

Dennis Tindall from Biothermal Technologies Ltd used to work for a major multinational chemical manufacture selling and using sprays that harm us and bees. He admits he was one of the guys that used to get up in community meetings trying to bamboozle the antichemical activists with science insisting they were perfectly harmless. Slowly Dennis began to see things that made him feel uncomfortable. He has had cancer himself, which he considers was a result of the close proximity he had to chemicals in his work place over many years. But it was an incident about 20 years ago that really turned Dennis around for good. One day after chemically spraying out in South Auckland he got a phone call to say a young boy had almost died. Dennis insisted on meeting him. Seeing this young boy so ill, made Dennis promise the boy’s father he would never use chemical sprays again and that he would work for the rest of his life to find an alternative to this harmful practice. He kept his word. Watch our pasture paintings and see for yourself Dennis’ hard work proving we no longer need to be chemical dependent.

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Beezthingz – a family’s admiration for bees

Julian and Oliver McCurdy are second generation bee keepers. It was their father’s love of bees that culminated in the business the two brothers now run. Beezthingz uses the latest strategies to care for bees as is demonstrated by the innovative green roofs they have produced to go on their bench hives for The Park. But after decades of trial and error they insist natural chemical free practices support healthy, happy bees that produce the best quality honey. They now run the biggest hire hive business in Auckland servicing hundreds of hives as well as teaching through their workshops. They are proud to let us know they lost almost no hives this year which is incredible as bees in New Zealand and the world are in serious decline. Come and do one of their workshops where they will share their strategies’ on how to love and nurture bees with you.

makethepark- pasture painting curren street 1 copy

Who is making the Pasture Paintings?

The artists Taarati Taiaroa and Sarah Smuts-Kennedy asked Richard Orjis to collaborate on the Pasture Paintings with them. The Pasture Paintings are one idea for making a Pollen Hotel to feed the bees in Victoria Park. Pasture Paintings are shapes hot steamed into roadside berms around the edge of the Waitemata that are planted in plants you might find in pastures, like clover and lupins. You can find out more about Pasture Paintings and Pollen Hotels in other posts on this blog.

Richard Orjis made another work for the Pop projects called Walking in Trees.

Underneath Richards public sculpture called Walking in Trees supported vertical Pollen Hotels made by high school students across Auckland who worked with the Roots Collective on their project Pollinate.

Pop, a Waitemata Local Board arts funded initiative offered a platform for these artists to work across content and space on individual and collaborative projects.

This invitation to make work both as individuals and in collaboration is extended to you the public. If you make a Pollen Hotel in your own space; at work or at home, add it to The Park map at In doing so, you will become part of the collaboration team who helped make and shape the public sculpture The Park.

T and S make The Park

Whose idea is The Park?

The conceptual artwork called The Park is the result of several years of collaboration between the artists Taarati Taiaroa and Sarah Smuts-Kennedy who met while completing their Masters at the University of Auckland, Elam School of Fine Art in 2011. In 2012 the artists began working on an idea for an artwork that would allow them to ask questions about the distinctions of public versus private space. They were also intrigued how they, two women living in Auckland, might discuss, critique and make Earth Works, a genre of art commonly defined by the work of American male artists who worked on large scales across vast spaces, often in the deserts of America, in the 1960′s. Over the years, the project has evolved and they became increasingly interested in how environmental work might also become an invitation to participate and a framework for change. The two artists are interested in problems inherent in the Relational art model and the potential the model Social Sculpture, developed by German artist Joseph Beuys, may offer for supporting a dynamic engagement between artists and the public to imagine, and make forms in collaboration.

The public sculpture The Park is a conceptual idea that is a framework for; thinking across space, increasing perception of relationships between nature and man, and transforming private space into a public artwork and individual actions into collective outcomes.

Both Sarah Smuts-Kennedy and Taarati Taiaroa have their own individual art practices.

The Park was invited to be a foundation project for the Waitemata Local Boards inaugural Pop projects in 2014.


Pasture Paintings #3 and #4 connect across space

The shape of Pasture Paintings #3 on Gladstone Road, Parnell was informed by the boundary of the space. We wanted to make a form that pointed back into the middle of The Park and so we chose to construct a triangle. The base line sits on the North/South Axis. The top corner points North and the arrow head of the triangle points towards the bee hives in a Western direction.

Pasture Painting #4 is located on Motions Road between Tapac and the Auckland Zoo in Western Springs. #4 was like the previous Pasture Paintings site-responsive. The pole across the tram track was used as a central point to project two lines 66 degrees apart. Their open form is designed catch and reflect the point of Pasture Painting #3 in the East.

Both sites have been seeded in yellow flowered pasture plants; mustard, dandelion and lupins, which will grow to different heights and flower at different times.

To find out more about Pasture Paintings click on the Topics tab down the bottom of this page and select Pasture Paintings.

full moon

Creating our Pasture Paintings by the moon

The Pasture Paintings for The Park are being created following the moon cycles.

The ascending and descending moon cycle refers to the moon moving on an axis that makes it appear as if it is getting higher and lower in the sky over a 27 day cycle.

The waxing and waning moon cycle involves the moon appearing fuller to us here on earth (as in the full moon) and then looking as if it has disappeared (which we call a new moon).  

The ascending and descending moon cycle effects the gravitational pull of water here on earth. As plants are almost 90% water these gravitational shifts really effect them.

On an ascending moon, the moon draws away from the earth and seems to move upwards into the sky. This creates a levitational tow on sap in the plant and makes it flow more strongly upwards.

The ascending moon effects tasks in the garden like:

Pruning trees- cutting a branch when its sap is rising means the tree is more likely to weep. It is best to avoid pruning trees on an ascending moon.

Propagation of all plants that produce things above ground- Fruit (tomatoes, plums, strawberries) Flowers and Leaf plants (leeks, spinach, parsley). The levitational pull amplifies the seed’s will to push out of its shell and up into the the world.

On a descending moon the moon draws again back towards the earth, and seems to get lower in the sky. Its effect is a more gravitational tow on the sap in the plant, drawing it down into the earth.

The descending moon effects tasks in the garden like:

Transplanting – when plants need to focus on settling their roots into the new ground.

Digging over garden beds – To make sure you lose the least amount moisture from the ground as you open up your garden bed.

48 hours before a full moon is a good time to sow seeds as well as a good time to do your organic pest control for bugs. There is always more moisture in the air around the full moon.

Some cultures refer to the new moon as a no moon suggesting that it is a good time to have rest day and do nothing in the garden at this time.