Whale Tales: First Batch of Sculptures Raises $500,000 for Conservation Efforts

Whale tails from an art project to promote ocean health fetched more than $500,000 at auction.

Run by WWF-New Zealand, the Whale Tales project consists of 80 tails, designed by artists across the country, each telling their own story inspired by the health of the oceans.

Half of the tails were sold Monday night at a live auction in central Auckland, raising $525,000 for WWF-New Zealand conservation efforts.

The Whale Tale Trail stretched from Pukekohe to Ōrewa and even to Great Barrier and Waiheke Island.

Brendan O’Hagan/Supplied

The Whale Tale Trail stretched from Pukekohe to Ōrewa and even to Great Barrier and Waiheke Island.

The rest was sold through online auctions, which ends at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

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Monday night’s top-selling tail, Whakaora Whale, went for $26,000.

Artist Greer Clayton said she wanted to capture the visual energy of the landscape, with native plants, rivers, lakes and coastlines rising on the horizon.

Ocean Defenders Annika Andresen and Bhakti Patel, who spent more than 500 hours painting their cue, From the Tiny to the Mighty, saw their piece sell for $19,500.

They said before Thing it was about making sure people knew what would happen if even the smallest creatures in the ecosystem were wiped out.

Annika Andresen and Bhakti Patel have spent most of their nights during New Zealand's lockdowns trying to find a way to comfortably paint the 1.8m tall tail.

Annika Andresen and Bhakti Patel/Supplied

Annika Andresen and Bhakti Patel have spent most of their nights during New Zealand’s lockdowns trying to find a way to comfortably paint the 1.8m tall tail.

“Inhale, exhale – every second breath you take comes from our ocean,” Patel said.

WWF-New Zealand chief executive Livia Esterhazy opened the auction, saying the project often looked like an uphill battle due to Covid-19 and shipping delays.

“Once we saw the tails there at Tāmaki Makaurau, it was worth it,” she said.

The tails were displayed throughout the region and hikers collectively traveled more than 8,000 km to see them, she said.

Prior to the auction, all of the cues that made up the larger art project were brought to Silo Park in Auckland.

At that time, there were more Bryde’s whale tails in Silo Park than there were in the Hauraki Gulf, she said, which highlighted the essence of the project. .