Excitement at Christchurch school as Pop Up Penguins waddle into class

10 August 2020

Pop Up Penguins are arriving to Christchurch schools as part of the PUP Learning Programme. Stuff journalist, Lee Kenny delves into the programme that provides opportunity for children to explore, learn and celebrate in the citywide art event.

  • Pop up penguins

    Excited students look-on as the penguin sculpture is unwrapped at South New Brighton School. Alden Williams/Stuff.

Christchurch youngsters welcomed an unusual visitor to their school – a one-metre penguin statue, Lee Kenny writes on Stuff.co.nz.

Students at South New Brighton School unwrapped the model on Thursday as part of the Pop Up Penguins (PUP) Learning Programme.

Children at 65 schools across Christchurch – including Akaroa and Diamond Harbour – will be given a yellow-eyed penguin to decorate.

Their artwork will then go on display during the nine-week Pop Up Penguins trail, which will be launched in Christchurch in late November.

Joining the pupils in New Brighton was Todd Schmidt, general manager of Christchurch’s International Antarctic Centre – home to 17 rescued penguins, which have been injured by predators or boats.

He unboxed the bird before a class of excited year 4 to 6 students.

“It looks a bit plain and boring but you guys have a very important job, to tell a story about who you are,” he told the class.

“Pop Up Penguins is all about bringing fun and energy to Christchurch. This penguin is going to be painted and made all pretty, then it goes on a sculpture trail so all the residents and visitors to Christchurch this summer can check them out.”

The yellow-eyed penguin is the largest to breed on mainland New Zealand, but is considered endangered with 1700 breeding pairs only.

Artist Jeremy Sauzier, a parent at South New Brighton School, will now work with a group of students to design and decorate their penguin.

“It's very exciting for them and it feeds into all the other great things the teachers are doing already," he said.

The next step is selecting a team to work on the decorative idea.

“It's not about choosing the best design, it's about a collaborative approach to creating something that’s for a wider audience,” Sauzier said.

As well as the schools’ sculptures, the public art trail will include 50 large penguins, sponsored by companies and decorated by established and emerging artists.

The PUP Learning Programme is supported by the International Antarctic Centre, Antarctica New Zealand, Gateway Antarctica, the College of Education University of Canterbury and the Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs.

It is run by Wild in Art and organisers are looking for sponsors of the large penguins on the trail, which will go to auction after the trail. Cholmondeley Children’s Centre, which provides short term respite care for families with children aged 3-12, will receive 75 per cent of the proceeds.

For more information or to sponsor one of the sculptures, visit the Pop Up Penguins website.

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