Student hopes moa mural will ‘spur action’

A University of Otago student is hopeful her ambitious mural will "spur action" in the Dunedin public.

Otago University science communications student, ecologist and artist Paulina Barry is fundraising to create a 15m tall by 12.5m wide mural on the side of the university’s zoology building.

The mural would go towards Ms Barry’s master’s degree and would stand as a visual celebration of New Zealand’s extinct birdlife.

"It’s going to be very stark, but I hope people don’t get afraid.

"And I don’t want people to feel hopeless when they see it, I want it to spur action."

It had taken a long time to conceptualise, she said.

"I took a month thinking and researching different artistic designs from the last two centuries in New Zealand to come up with something that I felt would convey a message of the impact extinction has had on New Zealanders."

Artist/ecologist Paulina Barry is fundraising to allow her to paint a mural of extinct New...
Artist/ecologist Paulina Barry is fundraising to allow her to paint a mural of extinct New Zealand birds on the University of Otago zoology department building as part of her masters in science communication project on Friday. She has released an impression of how her work would look on the Albany St side of the zoology building. IMAGE: SUPPLIED
The focus of Ms Barry’s studies had been the symbolic legacy of moa in New Zealand as, since moving here from Washington state, she had been very interested in New Zealand’s native birds and passion for conservation.

"Conservationists are very sad people in a lot of ways, because it’s hard to see your species that you study go extinct right before your very eyes, which drew me to studying extinction in the way that I have done."

The black and white mural was designed by Ms Barry herself.

"I thought of how I wanted to express it and what I wanted to put into it.

"It feels like something builds up inside of you and you have to release it out into some artistic expression and this is the design that I came up with."


The zoology department donated half the costs of the mural in support of Ms Barry’s project.

"The moa is at the centre of the image with all of these birds bursting from it.

"All of the extinct birds in the image are facing to the right.

"I have the South Island kōkako on the moa, looking at the moa, because there’s still a small glimmer of hope that it’s still here."

She hoped the mural would educate and inspire the public to learn more about extinct birdlife and the importance of conservation.

"Extinction can be really emotional.

"But it’s important that people know about it because it takes a whole village to save a species."

Ms Barry had raised $860 towards her goal of $3275.

The money would help pay for painting supplies and scaffolding.

Members of the public are welcome to make donations towards her project by searching moa street art on the Givealittle website.