Rotorua Christmas tree takes flight

Rotorua Christmas tree takes flight

In a year we won’t forget, this year’s community Christmas tree will be one to remember!

 In place from 1 December the 2020 Rotorua Christmas Tree, located in Te Manawa, offers a uniquely Kiwi twist on traditional festive decorations. Titled Ngā Manu o Aotearoa, the design celebrates New Zealand’s native birds showcasing piwakawaka (fantail), miromiro (tomtit), tui, takahē, kiwi, pūkeko, kereru (wood pigeon), kea and kārearea (New Zealand Falcon).

Accompanying the flock will be a beautiful soundscape playing individual bird songs and a combined dawn chorus. The Department of Conservation provided the recordings and local business, Light It Up AV, have created a beautiful soundscape. Visitors are invited to share in this interactive experience by finding all ten birds and then matching the songs to them. 

Artists Imogen Zino and Zoe McBride created the vision, which sees bird silhouettes, drawn by local artist Matangireia Yates-Francis, fly around the tree. Made from incandescent fabric, the surface of the birds responds to light and rain, transforming the look from day to night.

“Birds of Aotearoa is a concept Zoe and I were very excited to be able to bring to life. It celebrates native birds and in particular one of Aotearoa’s most spectacular birds, the kārearea. At night time we invite you to shine a light on the tree, revealing the soft glow of the birds,” explains Imogen Zino.

The concept was unanimously chosen by a panel of six judges following a call to artists in July 2020.  Artists were asked to submit proposals to ‘create a fresh new look for the city Christmas tree, with a truly New Zealand/Kiwiana theme’.

Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust committee member, Jo-Anne LaGrouw, was one of the local judges who selected Ngā Manu o Aotearoa.

“Native bird silhouettes will spiral around the tree and sit in various poses. The silver sailcloth depicting the birds will not only shimmer in the sunlight but also reflect lights at night. This year’s Christmas tree will have a very different look while still incorporating the candy canes of last year. It will be a very New Zealand Christmas tree,” says Mrs LaGrouw.

Ngongotaha-School-Kalani-Mativa-Horn-and-Ryleigh-King-1024x768 Rotorua Christmas tree takes flight

The Rotorua community is welcome to attend a talk given by the artists explaining their process and the unique design material they have chosen to use. This talk will take place at the Rotorua Library on Tuesday 1 December 2020, at 4.30pm.

Local primary and intermediate schools were also invited to be part of tree design this year. Eleven candy canes from previous years were distributed to schools so they could decorate ‘in a way that represents what a Kiwi Christmas means to them’.

These colourful candy canes were made by the following schools: Aorangi School, Bethlehem College Chapman, Kingslea School, Lynmore Primary School, Malfroy School (Montessori Unit), Ngongotahā School, Ōtonga Road Primary School, St Mary’s Primary School, Sunset Primary School, Upper Atiamuri School and Westbrook School.

This year’s community tree received generous funding from the Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust.

Head down to Te Manawa (corner of Hinemoa and Tūtānekai Streets) from 1 December 2020 until 11 January 2021 to view the Rotorua Christmas tree.


For further information:

Kathy Nicholls, Communications & Marketing Coordinator,

Arts & Culture Division, Rotorua Lakes Council

P: 07 351 8456 C: 0276 741 898 E: Kathy.nicholls@rotorualc.nz

Image credit: Creative vision ofNgā Manu o Aotearoa. Design by Imogen Zino and Zoe McBride

Image credit: Children from Ngongotahā School, Room 7, decorate their candy cane (Kalani Mativa-Horn and Ryleigh King)

Image credit: Completed candy cane from St Marys School, Room 1