Fantail – Piwakawaka

Carving: Fantail

Date: 2018

Location: Athol Art Gallery

THE CARVING: A fantail. Carved from New Zealand kauri. Eyes are onyx, legs cast metal and painted with artist acrylics.

I’m pleased with this particular fantail’s cheeky attitude. It seems to be looking at you as it briefly alights on a branch before flitting away.

Set upon found wood.

Mounts to the wall with a french cleat (supplied)

The birds

THE BIRD: Endemic to New Zealand. The fantail is one of New Zealand’s best known birds, with its distinctive fanned tail and loud song, and particularly because it often approaches within a metre or two of people. Its wide distribution and habitat preferences, including frequenting well-treed urban parks and gardens, means that most people encounter fantails occasionally.

They can be quite confiding, continuing to nest build or visit their nestlings with food when people watch quietly.

I can attest that this is the case. When I was employed at the Canterbury Museum, I cycled to work every day and in the the low shed used as a bike rest a pair of fantails raised successfully a brood in the structure at head height. They seemed unfased by the very close human activity. One would stay on the nest being fed by the other, the one on the nest stayed where it was even when people were close enough to reach it. The other would politely wait on a bike seat or handlebar, just out of arms reach, until you had moved away, before  flitting to the nest to feed it’s mate or later on the fledglings. I really enjoyed each day to be greeted by this confiding pair and observed them raise their family from close up.


Life size. Wall mounted. Approximately 600mm high x 160mm wide x 190mm out from wall.