100 giant eggs hidden in NZ

00:27, Mar 21 2014
SEEK AND YOU WILL FIND: Wellington artist Greg O'Brien with the egg he created for Starship children's hospital's Big Egg Hunt.

Starship children's hospital has a big job for the Easter Bunny this year: hiding 100 giant eggs around the country.

The one-metre-sized – sadly chocolate-free – Easter eggs were each created by a Kiwi artist or designer to be part of the hospital charity's Big Egg Hunt. From today, these artworks can be found in public spaces throughout Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch for the next month. One "mobile" egg will also travel nationally.

Wellington painter Greg O'Brien was quick to get on board for the fundraiser, modelled on a highly successful scheme in London.

"It seemed to be the kind of project that reached out to tiny children, professional people, tourists going by on a bus – everybody. It was kind of artistic and playful at the same time. It reached lots of people and probably made them see the city a little differently."

Just after Christmas, the artists were sent their blank eggs, and left to work their magic.

"They were bigger than you'd think, I was kind of shocked.

"The courier guy turned up one day on the doorstep carrying this big box – about the size of a washing machine, actually.

"It was a big, shiny, white egg – it looked beautiful as it was, to be honest.

"I thought, 'why don't you leave these eggs as they are?' "

But a recent trip to the Chatham Islands had inspired O'Brien.

"I was always fascinated with endangered birds. On Pitt Island, beyond Chatham Island, they've just had the first albatrosses starting to return there after decades of being banished by predators and farming.

"It was bringing in that theme to do with the preservation of life – which was kind of fitting with the very human purpose of Starship."

The creation might be the most interesting "canvas" the artist had ever worked with. "It took quite a long time to paint.

"You don't realise this is a three-dimensional thing, which did make it fun and interesting from an artistic point of view."

O'Brien's egg, named Nesting Song of Returning Seabirds (Chatham Island Sea Egg), along with others by Dick Frizzell, Dame Trelise Cooper and Denise L'Estrange-Corbet, will be displayed until April 22 for people to seek out.

Later, the 100 works will be auctioned to raise money for the charity – 80 will be sold through ongoing Trade Me auctions and 20 at a gala event next month.

Hunt sponsor Whittaker's Chocolates will donate at least $150,000 to Starship, raising proceeds through specially branded products, which will also give customers the chance to win a one-off 18-carat gold slab.


The Dominion Post