Wildlife paintings, portraits & pet portraits by New Zealand Artist Karen Neal

"Kia Kaha Kaikoura"

Pastel (50x70cm), Original SOLD
(Proceeds from this painting will be donated to the Huttons Shearwater Charitable Trust, following the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake,
...please read blog below).

On the easel to give a sense of scale. Framed photo to come.

With special thanks to Spencer Clubb, a photographer friend, who took a magical silhouette photo of two New Zealand fur seals. I love that in a silhouette photo, your eyes see what is not there. Spencer gained a Highly Commended in the NZ National Geographic wildlife photographer of the year category with the image "Sealhouette" and he has kindly allowed me to use the image as reference for this painting.

Proceeds from this painting will be donated to the Huttons Shearwater Charitable Trust. Framing has also kindly been donated by Seymour Framing, Blenheim. Exhibiting at the national pastel exhibition, Wallace Art Gallery, 167 Thames Street, Morrinsville, March 2017, with other PANZ members (Pastel Artists of New Zealand).

A severe earthquake hit the east coast of the south island of New Zealand, two minutes past midnight on 14th November 2016. Measuring 7.8 magnitude, at a depth of 15 kilometres, the quake lasted approximately two minutes. Rupturing multiple faults from Culverden (north Canterbury) through to Seddon (Marlborough), and ripping through the small seaside town of Kaikoura. It was felt New Zealand wide. Approximately 10,000 aftershocks have been felt since.

The main highway (State Highway 1), and railway route south to Kaikoura both sustained extensive damage, including major landslides, completely isolating the town from the rest of New Zealand. 2 people lost their lives, and many homes were lost. The road is going to take at least a year to repair and in the meantime Kaikoura can only be reached by an inland road from the south (Christchurch), or by sea and air from the north. Due to the risk of a tsunami, many homes were urgently evacuated in the dark of the night (including our own home at Rarangi Beach). I can only describe the quake as violent and surreal. Kaikoura is very close to home (an hour's drive), and we have all been effected in some way or another since the quake struck.

Whenever I drove the State Highway 1 south to Kaikoura (one of the most spectacular coastal drives in the world I might add), I often stopped and walked a mile or so up into the bush clad Kaikoura Ranges to a magical spot, the Ohau Stream Waterfall. Magical because every year baby seals returned to swim and play here in the safety of a predator-free pool. Somehow they knew to travel 2km upstream to find this 'seal kindergarten', almost as if it is ingrained in their genes. Very rarely would you see an adult seal in this area. It's one of those unexplained mysteries that baffle scientists, that is so delightful about wildlife. David Attenborough recently filmed this phenomenon to share with the world its marvels.

For many years it was a closely guarded local secret, but word eventually spread and it became a very popular tourist stop. After the earthquake, it was at first thought Ohau Stream Waterfall had been part of the major slip at Ohau Point, totally obliterated in 2 minutes by Mother Nature. The seals' fate unknown. Recently aerial footage has shown the waterfall is still intact, but it isn't known at this stage whether the baby seals continue to make the journey up there. Many Fur Seals and other wildlife including bird colonies (such as the Huttons Shearwater and Blue Penguins) lost their lives and habitat, because of the devastating earthquake.

kaikoura earthquake damage

The nationally endangered Hutton’s shearwater is the only seabird globally to breed in an alpine environment, with the only two breeding colonies remaining in the Seaward Kaikōura Range. Kaikōura is therefore literally their last place on earth. The Trust began Hutton’s shearwater chick translocating to the artificial colonies on Kaikoura Peninsula in 2005. Without human intervention the Hutton’s shearwater would most likely face extinction  Chicks adapted well to their artificial burrows within the predator-proof colony on the Kaikoura Peninsula.  The colonies have now been greatly effected by the earthquake (whole areas of mountainside simply fell off), and an estimated 25 – 35% loss in bird numbers (a more accurate estimate will be available when ground surveys have been carried out). More information on the Huttons Shearwater can be read here.

Please have a look at the Department of Conservation's website with information regarding wildlife effected by the earthquake
by clicking here.

There is also a really interesting article in the New Zealand Geographic magazine, worth a read!

My thoughts are with the people of Kaikoura. Kia Kaha.

A small video by my partner, artist Chris Chalk, of us enjoying the Ohau Stream Waterfall and Baby Seals in 2014.
Turn up your speakers, press HD and enjoy!


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