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How Purchasing A Particular Pop Up Penguin Will Fund Antarctic Research

Over the summer, Cantabrians have seen painted penguins ‘popping up’ around the streets and public spaces of Christchurch, Lyttelton and Banks Peninsula. However, one small penguin has a special solo mission – to help fund penguin research.

With a special Antarctic connection, Moana was created by University of Canterbury (UC) staff and students from Gateway Antarctica in the School of Earth and Environment | Te Kura Aronukurangi in UC’s College of Science.

Moana’s design is about the delicate connectedness among the marine and terrestrial spheres. Moana represents this connection as a hoiho – the rarest penguin species in the world – and by carrying some of Aotearoa New Zealand’s other endangered species on her back, including a gold-striped gecko, a Māui dolphin and a kiwi.

UC is an official education partner of the Pop Up Penguin initiative. UC senior lecturer at Gateway Antarctica, Dr Michelle LaRue worked with UC’s College of Education, Health and Human Development, and the Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programme (COMNAP) to create an education pack. This pack, highlighting the plight of penguins and the research being undertaken now and in the future, went out to over 60 schools.

“The artists are University of Canterbury students and researchers who volunteered their time and energy for Moana while taking classes and conducting research amid the ongoing pandemic,” says Dr La Rue. “Their willingness to convey Moana’s story is testament to their dedication to creating a future where each of these species, and their endangered kin around the world, still exist.”

Moana is due to be auctioned at an event at the Wigram Air Force Museum, Christchurch, on Tuesday 16 February with 75% of proceeds to be used to support the newly established Penguin Research Fund at the University of Canterbury. (All other penguins are being auctioned for the benefit of Cholmondeley Children’s Centre.)

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