Wearable arts on Hauturu o Toi


Written by Leigh Joyce, Kākāpō Biodiversity Ranger, Hauturu o Toi, Little Barrier Island.



The weed team on Hauturu o Toi Little Barrier Island have just finished a three month stint. Eleanor, Julia, Nathan, Piper and Rae did an amazing job grid-searching for climbing asparagus and other exotic weeds, working alongside Pete, the Biodiversity Ranger, and Cathy.

To celebrate their time on the island, we had a Wearable Arts event on their last night. The recycled outfits were incredibly creative and varied, and we even had a “cat walk” – the boardwalk behind the bunkhouse.


Eleanor looked a bit like Edward Scissor-hands, with long “fingernails” made from dried native flax caddies (dead stems from old seed-heads). Julia’s “Try-angle” outfit was made from pink plastic triangles and flagging tape used to mark weed plot sites; while Rae used marmite as eye-shadow and lipstick with a clothes peg necklace; and Piper recycled a bum-bag as a bustle with old weeding gloves and flagging tape. Nathan’s Egyptian “Fluoro Pharaoh” was made from fluorescent high-vis safety vests, proving that you can be both safe AND fashionable!

Richard, the island Biodiversity Ranger, came as “Plastic Fantastic” or “Let’s Face It” using recycled plastic to make a slightly scary heat-moulded face, cap and shoulder pads. Leigh’s “Holiday Destination” hat was inspired by the annual summer migration of Long-tailed cuckoo to New Zealand from the Pacific Islands.

The island ranger’s children also made stunning outfits. Liam, aged 11, was King Neptune and made an outfit called “Fat chance of by-catch” due to the fact that it was made from a large round mussel buoy, with old fishing net as a neck ruffle, a fishing float crown, and a sword and trident made from drift wood. Mahina, aged 13, based her creation on a Crayfish (Lobster) pot.


She used the plastic netting and red pot entrance as a skirt, and two fishing floats as a bikini top – a reddish-orange one for “Port” and a green one for “Starboard” – complete with battery-wired red and green flashing navigation lights! (as well as port and starboard nail polish)! She wore a seaweed necklace, and made her shoes using heat-moulded plastic from a mussel buoy with recycled wooden heels.

It was a really fun and inspirational evening – it’s amazing what you can make on an island using recycled materials!