New Zealand Pacific Studio

Back in the before times, February 2020, in the countryside of the Wairarapa region, not far-ish from Wellington, NZ, on our first artist residency in New Zealand, we stay in a charming cottage set in a splendid olive grove – native plant food forest with visionary owners Gaye and Michael. Our two-fold project includes creating portals in the landscape and an art+science study of eels. The Maori name for NZ is ‘world of the long clouds’, Aotearoa.

A stream full of eel runs through Michael and Gaye’s land, on which they have planted hundreds of trees, inviting shade and biodiversity.

The New Zealand Pacific Studio residency program takes an innovative community-based approach. Rather than hosting artists at a physical location, NPS pairs artists with like-minded local hosts who provide housing and a willingness to show their visiting artist guests a good time, with relevant field trips, resources, hikes, gatherings, even eel petting opportunities. This brilliant spin on the residency concept sprung from necessity; when the original house place had to be sold, the organization found a way to go forward.  Our hosts could not have been more lovely, generous and thoughtful- big thanks to Gaye and Michael, super activist allies to indigenous people and natural history. We learned so much!

When the world rights and travel is a thing, I encourage all my artist friends with an interest in New Zealand to check out NPS.