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Taking a stand against plastic litter

Tuesday September 04, 2018 Written by Published in Environment
Papaaroa school children help make plastic fi sh out of old plastic bottles, toward the fi rst instalment in the “Don’t Let It Be Real” campaign. 18090305 Papaaroa school children help make plastic fi sh out of old plastic bottles, toward the fi rst instalment in the “Don’t Let It Be Real” campaign. 18090305

With up to 13 million tonnes of plastic leaking into the ocean annually, to be ingested by sea life and birds, and then through the food chain, by man, more needs to be done about the problem of plastic litter, says Te Ara Cook Islands Museum of Cultural Enterprise director Stan Wolfgramm.


They have begun a “Don’t Let It Be Real” campaign aimed at raising money to launch two art installations in their museum, the theme being ‘don’t let it be real, make better plastic choices.’

Wolfgramm says the ocean is suffering under the burden of plastic waste, and if the trend continues there will be more plastic by weight in the ocean than fish.

The first installation, called “Forgotten Promises”, features plastic fish, made from recycled bottles. It will be exhibited at Te Ara – the Cook Islands Museum of Cultural Enterprise, as a message of hope to the world. It aims create awareness and remove plastic bottles from the landfill and ocean. It is linked to the ancestral and cultural connection to the ocean and the gods especially Tangaroa, god of the sea, and will permanently hang in the Museum.

The second larger installation, nearly four metres tall, will be an outdoor statue of Tangaroa, made of plastic bottles and filled with ocean waste. It will be on permanent display at the front of the museum.

Donations are being sought to help make this project happen, promoting awareness, helping to remove plastic from the environment, and helping the creation of “up-cycled” plastic fish to be exported around the world to further increase awareness of the plastic waste problem.

Pledges of $10 and upwards are being sought and those who pledge a donation will receive a gift according to the amount they have pledged. The gifts include a “meitaki ma’ata”, e-post card, instructions on how to make a plastic fish, a reusable drink bottle - and if you pledge over $49.50 a t-shirt. Pledge $165 or more and you will receive an original print depicting life in the Cook Islands. On offer will be a selection of A3-sized prints by two renowned contemporary Cook Islands artists who work with the project to protect the ocean. 

More details are available, and for those wanted to pledge more are on the project’s Facebook page.

“We have started working with schools and have developed a curriculum around this. We want to also make a booklet and a video to go with the sculptures,” says Wolfgramm. Many schools have become involved and have started making fish for the first instalments and there has been foreign interest including one university in Monash, where this has become part of their online learning.

“It’s really gone worldwide,” says Wolfgramm.

“The Cook Islands is the perfect place to lead this project as it's in the middle of the South Pacific, a place where the ocean is the most remote and pristine and therefore a clear barometer for change.”