Arna McAvoy from Bird Shirts
In a nutshell, what are Bird Shirts?
In a tiny nutshell – we sell shirts with birds on them! In a slightly bigger nutshell we are here to nourish people’s connection with our native birds through selling bird-merch with 50% of profits going to the conservation of the species on the tee. It’s an amazing feeling to spot a Kererū when you’re wearing one on your chest and knowing that you’ve played a part in the conservation of her and her whanau.
How long have Bird Shirts been around for and has this always been a project you've wanted to do?
We started this project almost a year ago and released our first bird, the Kererū, last October. Skivvy Jon is keen businessperson and really sought a project where he could utilise his skills for the purpose of spreading the love for our birds. I am an asylum lawyer by trade and was caught out by the pandemic. Bird Shirts is a great opportunity for me to exercise my love of birds while the borders are closed.
It's really awesome that half of the profits from each t-shirt are donated to help support the very bird on the shirt itself – can you tell us a little bit more about the charities that are involved?
We have supported some inspiring people who dedicate so much of their time and resources to helping birds.
Nik at Project Kererū is an absolute legend in the Kererū world. She started rehabilitating kereru when she was 17 and has now built up to have 4 amazing aviaries for rehabilitating kereru. Wildlife rescue centres are doing an amazing job, but most do not have the capacity for rehabilitation and Nik provides a much-needed service for Kereru from all over the South Island.
Dunedin Wildlife hospital is a cracking team of people who work tirelessly 365 days a year providing medical support to our wildlife. It began as an initiative by motivated people running in the breeding season and has since transitioned into a full-time hospital for animals.
The Yellow-Eyed Penguin Trust is a group providing for essential conservation work for the rarest penguin in the world. Their work is in invaluable for the survival of the Hoiho.
Kea Conservation Trust and The Takahē Recovery Programme are a little larger in scale and have all made massive head way in the respective specialties. Increasing population and making sure our country is habitable. Tracking and breeding. Awesome people doing awesome mahi for awesome birds!
It's pretty special when you have an interaction or sighting of one of these amazing birds – are there any particular memories that stand out for you, in terms of just how incredible the native birds of Aotearoa are?
So many very special moments!
We were sleeping on a beach in the north of the South Island. I woke up in the early hours of the morning with a weka about 2 inches from my face! It gave me a surprise for sure and when I jumped up, I saw three others checking us out. They were characteristically unphased.
The friendliness of toutouwai never ceases to amaze me. It feels like I am joined by one on every tramp I go on.
The bird life on Stewart Island while we tramped the Southern Circuit was what got us through the kilometres of waist deep mud!
Looking to the future, what has Bird Shirts got in store?
The aim of the game for us is to spread awareness. We want to shine a bright light on all of our birds, and we have a bunch of exciting ones coming up. Thanks to the amazing support from countless people across Aotearoa we have had a great start.
Find out more at https://birdshirts.co.nz/