Meet the Locals He Tuku Aroha





Wellington Zoo




Wellington, New Zealand




Visitor Experience

Design & Build


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Wellington Zoo wanted to tell the stories of New Zealand’s most common and most endangered animals while promoting the care and appreciation of all creatures; showing just how much they give us and what we can do to look after them.


With two main habitats to design for, the concept was split into two sites: Pohutakawa Farm (featuring NZ farm animals) and Conservation Champions (featuring endangered native animals).

For The Farm we created interactive displays that taught visitors about how important farm animal are while promoting animal welfare consumer choices. Conservation Champions communicates through humorous illustration, shining a spotlight on some of New Zealand’s lesser known endangered creatures.

The interpretation was designed to show the characteristics of each animal, the challenges they face, and the conservation and awareness work that is happening for each of them.


Originally the site of several old aviaries, the new Meet the Locals He Tuku Aroha site was transformed into an exciting multi-zoned area.

zoo intro

We were lucky to have our work housed in the two main areas known as Pohutakawa Farm and Conservation Champions. The key to making these sites work was to maximise the space with large, easy-to-read signs and big, interactive models that would enhance visitor engagement.


We really wanted to showcase each animal’s distinctive personality, intelligence and resources. To achieve this, we went big and bold.

Visitors are invited to physically ‘milk’ the cow for information, pulling on their milk-bottle-udders to discover the facts.

Pigs are shown as large recycling bins, capable of processing all our waste and returning the favour with being a vital ingredient in many of our daily household items.

zoo pigs

Chickens were sculpted from old egg cartons and wood. Each chicken was beautifully hand-crafted locally. Visitors then get to discover handy facts about chickens and eggs by lifting egg-handled fact panels.


Dressed in locally-knitted jerseys, the sheep help the user discover their many uses with their large ‘feed bag’ information bales.


The busiest installation at The Farm is definitely the bees. With a hand-crank power generator, visitors can set the busy bees in motion in the apparatus above. This also sends the flowers nearby shooting upwards, telling the story of the bees’ hard work collecting nectar and pollinating plants and flowers.

The beehive built into the wall gives visitors the unique opportunity to observe a hive in action and nearby pull-up signs provide additional information about the value of bees.

zoo bees

At Conservation Champions a large mural, encompassing the entire building wall shows the homes of each animal and sets the scene. Visitors can get up close to the Maud Island frog, Otago skinks and Kea and Kaka. As an extra illustration, a mounted graphic shows the skillset of the cheeky Kea.

The end result has been immensely satisfying. Meet the Locals He Tuku Aroha has been a real success for Wellington Zoo and we’ve been able to see first hand how visitors young and old interact with the signs and displays. We’re sure the message of care and conservation has been brought home (to roost) for many New Zealanders and tourists alike.