Art meets ecology in unique Tāmaki Estuary initiative

Last Updated : 18 Aug 2020

Entries are open for one of New Zealand’s only contemporary art prizes with ecology at its core: The Estuary Art and Ecology Prize.

Submissions are open for the 2020 Estuary Art and Ecology Prize, now in its 14th year, with a collective prize value of $8300.

Entries close on Sunday 31 May 2020 –  please click here for more information and to submit your entry. 

An esteemed annual event supported by the Howick Local Board, Uxbridge’s Malcolm Smith Gallery invites artists to research and respond to the Tāmaki Estuary through art, from within their lockdown bubbles.

Artists are asked to, ‘underscore the ecological value of this vital waterway and encourage action against its pollution.’

Centre Manager, Vickie Bowers, Uxbridge Arts & Culture says: “We look forward to bold entries, some of which may incorporate the impact of recent changes to our daily lives.

“We encourage you to study the estuary in all its glory online, through conversations or in books, and create a submission that will challenge concept and perception. You might find inspiration in its history and beauty or the ecological challenges the estuary faces.” 

Art meets ecology in unique Tāmaki Estuary initiative

Vickie reiterates that field-based research is not permitted for any entries during lockdown.

The Tāmaki River or Tāmaki Estuary is mostly an estuarial arm and harbour of the Hauraki Gulf. It extends south for 15 kilometres from its mouth, between the suburb of St Heliers and the long thin peninsula of Bucklands Beach, which reaches its end at Musick Point.

The inlet extends past the suburbs of Glendowie, Wai o Taiki Bay, Point England, Glen Innes, Tāmaki, Panmure and Ōtāhuhu in the west.

Tāmaki Estuary has a rich history; it was highly prized for its fertile soil and flounder. It was also an important portage point for Māori to carry their canoes from one coast to the other – avoiding the long trip around North Cape. 

Alongside the main prize, Uxbridge is running two new prizes this year.

The first is the Estuary Youth Art and Ecology Prize for primary, intermediate and high-school-age children. The second is a Lockdown Heroes Prize for art honouring and showing gratitude to our essential workers at this time; our ‘lockdown heroes’.

Art meets ecology in unique Tāmaki Estuary initiative (1)

Howick Local Board Chair Adele White says: “We are pleased to support initiatives that encourage our young creatives to use this time in their bubbles to create art that responds to our local environment, and also our nationwide front-line heroes.”

Prizes will be judged by Monique Jansen, an Auckland-based artist and Head of Visual Arts at Auckland University of Technology. 

The Estuary Art Exhibition is scheduled for 4 July until 30 August, but dates may change due to the government’s COVID-19 response. 

For up to date information about COVID-19 visit and for information on Auckland Council’s response to the virus visit

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