Hannah Wedlock Sponsor a Takahē

  • Tauira / Student
    Hannah Wedlock
  • Kaiako / Lecturer
    Annette O'Sullivan

The plight of endangered native species was the subject of this 300-level elective which involved developing a multiple-touchpoint design approach that increases awareness and change behaviours of a target audience. It builds upon an earlier independent research project, three informative posters that described the creature’s decline, status, and protective measures.

Sponsor a Takahē is a proposed campaign, run by the Department of Conservation (DOC), which seeks public sponsorship of takahē transference from captivity to Kahurangi National Park. The Takahē Recovery Programme’s long-term goal exists in two parts: that takahē “exist in growing numbers in large areas of their former natural” and that they are “treasured as a national icon”. The financial aspect of the campaign enables the former, while the latter is addressed through the design strategy, creating an icon in the bird that embodies aspects of Kiwi culture and humour.

Sponsorship through DOC’s existing webpage is an uninspiring experience, reflecting a lack of strategy to extend its sponsors. The rebrand is tailored toward a challenging audience: a younger, city-dwelling demographic. The campaign works across appropriate media, involving posters and collaborations with local businesses to create a skateboard design and craft beer; these creatively place conservation into an urban context, promoting both the message and call to action. The website extends this narrative experientially, illustrating the takahē’s come-back story and inviting the audience to influence its future. Symbolic sponsorship of individual takahē personalises the story and results in a sense of kaitiakitanga. Tote bags are gifted to sponsors and act as further promotion.

The project’s visual system is reflective of both its target audience and of the takahē’s qualities. Inspired by public discourse in digital spaces (including sourced comments) about takahe, the design carries a conversational tone, bouncing between facts and the pathos. The approachable style accentuates the colour, playfulness, and roundness of the takahē through bright tones and plump illustrations. The copy adopts a colloquial voice, rich with character and wordplay; it’s friendly, cheeky even, capturing the bird’s admirable attributes.

Amongst a wealth of research to glean from, it was challenging to refine the information in an accessible and educational way while developing an engaging story. I selected and crafted information through an informal and humorous presentation that is uncommon amongst conservation campaigns (which often appeal to logos); I hoped this would resonate widely. The overarching narrative is of a bird that is equally chill in manner as it is wondrously unique in character and resilience - not unlike many New Zealanders. This approach aims to capture the emotions I experienced on my first encounter with a takahē in real life; the audience is captured, initially by its hilarious and endearing appearance, but they grow ever fonder of the bird as they discover more about it. This all works towards raising public value of the takahē as a national taonga, not just a creature worth sponsoring and supporting their return to the wild, but one worth celebrating.