Drawing Aotearoa

When we put our heads together to develop a range of new merchandise, we realised that we wanted more than just a logo on a t-shirt. We wanted to embrace two key ideas: that whatever we produced would be sustainably-sourced, plastic-free, and designed to last; and also that it would tell the story of our connection to the environment.

Wellington Artists Kemi & Niko

Wellington artists Kemi & Niko

That’s when one of the team put up their hand and asked “why don’t we get some local artists to help?” Luckily for us we were soon put in touch with Kemi & Niko, a talented artistic duo based in on the West Coast, who are also passionate Greens. Their brief was to develop a flexible piece of art, starting with the Green Heart icon that has become a part of the Green brand as a jumping off point.

The range was a real hit with supporters and members, and as their art continues to grace our range across 2020, we look back to a chat with the duo about their practice, politics, and microplastics.

What motivates you as artists and illustrators?

Values are at the core of our practice. In our public art projects we look to connect individuals to their communities, and communities to their environments. We’re very excited right now about a large upcoming public art project exploring the use of ocean plastics which we’re launching in early 2019

What did you start with when creating the new design?

We began with the purapurawhetū, a traditional tukutuku pattern of stars. For us this represents diversity and the idea of living under the principles of the land.

The design is a collection of symbols that represent different stories and issues facing us in Aotearoa. Do you have one that is a favourite?

Probably the Banded Kokopu [at the top right of the design]. We live near Papawai reserve and visit it often, helping with community projects like tree planting. The return of banded kokopu to the Papawai stream is a real success story of urban waterways renewal and something I feel a deep connection to.

What’s the big issue you want to see action on?

There are so many! We went to the Pacific Climate Change Conference - part of the Deep South Challenge - which looked at the way climate change issues are communicated. What was really interesting was that they invited artists to the table, not just scientists. We have to find new ways to rally our people around what we really care about. This is something we can do really well in New Zealand. We’ve done it before on the nuclear free issue, on apartheid, and we need to do it again now.

You can learn more about Kemi & Niko on their website, or follow them on social media (FB, Instagram, or Twitter)

Support the Green Party and the work of local artists by purchasing some of our great new merchandise or our Green Green Tea, from Ritual Tea Company, and the Green Party blend from Peoples Coffee.

So whether you want to wear it, drink it, or carry it, there’s something for you.

Our new Green heart design