Illustrations  Tui, Fantail and Pukeko: New Zealand's native birds
06/02/201800:00 Emilie Géant
Pukeko at Western Spring
2018 is here!

Welcoming the new year in New Zealand is highly energizing, because it is summer time and the sunny, warm climate boosts my motivation for the year ahead. Turning a fresh new page in my artistic journey, it truly is exciting to be able to work on several new ideas which I've had in mind for the past year but was too busy to work on.

In 6 months' time, new paintings need to be ready for an exhibition in collaboration with the
Alliance Française in Palmerston North and I have already received a significant amount of commissioned work requests, along with my ongoing business.
A sketch from a visit to Castle Point Bay

So, in order to wrap my head around everything, my husband, my son and I just took a week off on the East coast! What else than to relax and clear your mind, right?

We had wonderful family time in the countryside and my son keeps surprising me with his knowledge of birds! He is the reason I have started my series of New Zealand's native bird paintings. Sometimes, I am not sure anymore if he is one to follow my interest in native birds or if it was the other way around, where I let him guide me instead. We have been watching birds together since he was born.
My son, Teo, at the window

At only 2 and a half years old, he recognises the Tūī just by hearing it sing. The Tūī has this unexpected song that is reminiscent of an old cellphone ring tone. Its feathers are overall pretty dark, but magic happens when a ray of sun goes on the bird; it brightens up the bird with an amazing wash of blue and green highlights.
Sketching the Tūī, a work in progress

Another emblematic bird in New Zealand my son loves is the Fantail. It is really friendly and comes really close when you're walking on a lawn sometimes. What it is trying to do when it swoops down like that is to check and see if there may be insects around from the soil below you, once you've lifted your feet from walking. For my young son, it takes a lot of his willpower in order to stay still and watch them fly around us.
Flying fantails
The third favorite one of my son is the Pūkeko. About the size of a chicken, it's high on its legs and has an awkward way of walking. A lot of children's books and songs are dedicated to this bird, because of its distinctive dark blue body, bright red beack and front head.


Beside being among my son's three favorite birds, I can see that these beautiful creatures are also in the hearts of a lot of Kiwis. The 3 species' prints are especially popular at my booth at every craft fair market I attend. Visit me at my next market, which will be held on Sunday, the 3rd of March, at the Manawatu Caraft and Food Fair in Palmerston North! Until then, let me know what you think of these native New Zealand birds - I can't wait to present to you more from my series!

Follow Emilie on Instagram or visit her social media channels in her bio below! Please note that diacritic marks from the birds' names have been removed in the article's title in order to be made compatible for viewing on all platforms.
I'm Emilie, a French artist who fell in love with New Zealand and its culture when traveling around the country 10 years ago. I've decided to settle in Aotearoa in 2012 with my husband and my half French/half Kiwi son. As a newcomer, I explore the culture and environment of New Zealand through my paintings and illustrations. I am here to share with you my experiences, work and everyday life here as an illustrator and most of all my love for this amazing country and its people!

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