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'The Unseen' Exhibition

Art Meets Science with 'The Unseen'

Gabby OConnor CREDIT Braden Fastier

Gabby O’Connor, pictured, with an earlier version of The Unseen. Photo credit: Braden Fastier.

The Unseen exhibition is on at the National Aquarium of New Zealand, from 11 March – 8 June 2022.

Understanding the unseen global effects of climate change has been made easier by creative science communication superhero Gabby O’Connor.

Armed with science, cable ties and 12km of rope, Gabby has shared the unseen risks of environmental changes through collaborative artwork with 5,000 school children and their whānau across New Zealand as part of the Sustainable Seas ‘National Sciences’ programme.

By using rope and cable ties to ‘draw’ with, children from schools across Hawke’s Bay have contributed to this artwork. They’ve explored complex scientific ideas, making the unseen risks of environmental changes more visible and understandable. They also explored how this might affect future management of New Zealand marine ecosystems.

The rope used in the artwork will be recycled for other community projects and groups who have expressed an interest. The cable ties will be donated to a recycled plastics design programme which transforms plastic waste into new objects.

The exhibition is part of your general admission at the aquarium.

Together we can do much more than we can do alone

  • 5,000 people have helped make the artwork so far (and that's before it reached Napier)
  • 12kms of rope has been used so far and will continue being made into new artworks after this display
  • 1000's of cable ties will be reused and remade into new things after the exhibition
  • The Unseen has been exhibited in a park, galleries, art museums and now an aquarium!
  • The age range of people who have participated so far is from those aged three to 83 years old

Contributing Hawke's Bay Scientists

Becky Shanahan - Senior Scientist Marine and Coasts, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council | Te Kaunihera ā-rohe o Te Matau a Māui
Becky’s current research focus is on the health and extent of seagrass habitats in Hawke’s Bay, and how we can protect and potentially restore them in the future.

Annabel Beattie - Terrestrial ecologist, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council | Te Kaunihera ā-rohe o Te Matau a Māui
Annabel’s current research focus is on the Hawke’s Bay Coastal Seabird Survey.  A survey that encompasses the entire coastline of Hawke’s Bay, over 300km,
identifying individual seabird species, estimated population sizes, and mapping key seabird hot spot locations that may need protection.

Learn more about Hawke's Bay Regional Council's marine projects

See the Unseen in 360

Installation Timelapse

About the Sustainable Seas National Science Challenge

For the past seven years, the Sustainable Seas Challenge has been investigating ways for people to be engaged in marine management and the future of Aotearoa New Zealand’s vast marine world.  The Unseen is part of the Navigating marine social-ecological systems project. It’s aim is to identify and/or improve our  understanding of institutional, social and cultural factors that need to be incorporated into ecosystem-based management for it to be successfully used to manage Aotearoa New Zealand’s marine resources. Gabby O’Connor is a PhD student at the University of Auckland and NIWA, funded by the Sustainable Seas National  Science Challenge.

We can't wait to show you our world.

Opening Hours

Daily from 9:00am - 5:00pm
(including public holidays)
last entry 4:30pm


Marine Parade, Napier

+64 6 834 1404

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