The Kermadecs

A Collaboration – Creating a global marine sanctuary

Photo Credits: Demoiselles/Roger Grace, Purple rock crab/Tom Hitchon, Seawhip anemone/Roger Grace

Kermadec artists voyage


The KermadecsIn May 2011, nine artists from New Zealand voyaged on the HMNZS Otago to the Kermadecs – one of the most untouched ocean regions of the planet.

The artists were Gregory O’Brien, Bruce Foster, Robin White, John Reynolds, Phil Dadson, John Pule, Jason O’Hara, Elizabeth Thomson, and Fiona Hall. Others invited included broadcaster Marcus Lush and representatives of the Department of Conservation (DOC): Minister Kate Wilkinson, senior managers and field workers.

Juvenile Kermadec scalyfin, Roger Grace

Pew Environment Group’s Global Ocean Legacy campaign organised the artists’ voyage to the Kermadecs, partnering with the Royal New Zealand Navy and the New Zealand Department of Conservation. Global Ocean Legacy was established in 2006 to focus on creating great parks in the seas to help safeguard the earth’s marine environment.  Since Global Ocean Legacy’s founding, their partnerships have doubled the amount of ocean habitat worldwide that is comprehensively protected.




Kermadec Map

If designated, a Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary could become the newest, largest and most spectacular of the new generation of global marine parks.

The vast 620,000-square-kilometre expanse of ocean, located between New Zealand’s North Island and Tonga, is home to whales and turtles, sharks, seabirds, fish, and deep-sea marine life. It also contains underwater volcanoes and a deep-sea trench, making the islands a hotspot for some of the most geologically active and biologically unusual features on the planet.  In 2010, the National Geographic Society and Census Marine Life declared the Kermadecs one of the “last pristine sites left in the ocean”.

Few have studied first-hand the ocean that sustains such a range of whales, turtles, sharks and seabirds. The Kermadecs is a unique geological and biological convergence – a place where the Pacific and Australian tectonic plates collide, where the tropical waters of the Pacific meet the temperate waters of the Southern Ocean. It provides breeding sites for endemic and endangered seabirds, and a deep ocean that is home to species and interactions of which scientists have only just become aware.

The Kermadecs:


The artists contemplated, photographed, filmed, and recorded their impressions of the ocean.

15rpm (Rock Records) Raoul Island (2011) detail Phil Dadson - note: 'rpm' = rockphotometer

Above: 15rpm (Rock Records) Raoul Island (2011) detail Phil Dadson – note: ‘rpm’ = rockphotometer


Artist Fiona Hall talks about her voyage from New Zealand to Tonga along the 10,000 metre deep Kermadec Trench, and the making of her work; Bowline on a Bight. Kermadec: Reflections on a Voyage – Fiona Hall from Bruce Foster on Vimeo.

Interview with artist Robin White about her voyage to the Kermadec Islands, and the background to the making of Siu i Moana. Kermadec: Reflections on a Voyage – Robin White from Bruce Foster on Vimeo.






Interview with artist John Reynolds about his voyage to the Kermadec Islands, the most remote part of New Zealand and one of the greatest, least known, pristine ocean sites on the planet. Kermadec: Reflections on a Voyage – John Reynolds from Bruce Foster on Vimeo.



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