Weeds awareness through arts

In July 2017, we called for proposals from artists to help raise awareness of ecological weeds in Wellington – there was a great response with proposals and an exciting range of ideas, which led to the selection of two projects by Wellington artists.

Shaun Matthew's Jasmininium overlay

Shaun Matthew's Jasmininium overlay


The Council and community groups plant approximately 100,000 native trees each year, but without weed control our native forest will struggle to thrive. Alongside our current methods of weed control, we have commissioned these artists to create art in public space to highlight one or more of our key messages.

  • weeds are suffocating our native forests
  • not all green is good
  • climbing weeds; which species are bad.


Shaun Matthews –Incursion

March 2018 | Parks Week

Shaun is interested in both the beauty and danger of climbing plant species. He will be creating a series of large photographic images on fabric for parks in central Wellington during Parks Week in March 2018. 

Shaun says, “These plants are, as all weeds, opportunists and colonisers. Many were introduced as domestic plants which were a reminder or memory of home; something familiar and to add colour and exoticism against the green of the native bush. Yet over 300 plants have been listed as a serious threat to our parks and reserves, and of the top 13 most common weeds in New Zealand designated by DOC, six are climbers or scramblers.”

Shaun’s artworks will be hung high amidst the trees and bush. He says, “The large images will “smother” the plants behind them, creating a sense of how huge and devastating their impact on our native ecosystem is.”

Shaun’s project is supported by the Wellington City Council Public Art Fund.

Anna Bailey – String Bean Puppets

July 2018 School Holidays

Anna will create a puppet show for children and families to raise awareness about ecological weeds. The show introduces two of the climbing weed species to explore the impact they can have on native plant species. It is centred around a tale of a kereru and a child and their journey to protect a baby kohekohe tree from dangerous climbing weeds.

Anna will present a series of free puppet shows during the July 2018 school holidays.

Anna is well known as String Bean Puppets – a Wellington puppet company dedicated to sharing the wonder and magic of puppetry. Anna is a traveling puppeteer and as well as performing locally, she has travelled extensively overseas to Street Theatre Festivals, Puppet festivals, Children’s Theatre Festivals and Fringe Festivals.

Anna’s project is supported by Wellington City Council's Weeds Awareness Fund and the Public Art Fund.


Native flora and fauna often inspires New Zealand artists. With the announcement of Predator Free New Zealand 2050 last year, more and more kiwis are becoming engaged in their natural environment, but there’s just one problem… it’s hard to make the conversation around weeds sexy!

In Wellington we are losing the battle against climbing weeds such as banana passionfruit (Passiflora tripartite, P. tarminiana), old man’s beard (Clematis vitalba), Japanese honeysuckle and climbing asparagus which are taking over our bush, smothering habitat for native birds, invertebrates, and plants.


We want to engage Wellingtonians in a conversation around weeds. We need to promote the idea that not all green is good and that action starts at home in our own backyards or local reserves. We wish to educate the public on which weeds are the worst offenders.

This project is aimed at initial engagement and so we are not yet creating a call-to-action.

More information

Tim Park, Environment Partnership Leader
Phone: 021 247 9739
Email: tim.park@wcc.govt.nz