Exhibition reveals unseen view of Taranaki’s botanical history

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Taranaki’s botanic history through the eyes of the late Fanny Bertha Good takes centre stage in new temporary exhibition opening at NPDC’s Puke Ariki on 7 April.

State of Nature: Picturing the Silent Forest features 50 of the Taranaki artist’s paintings of a range of flora and fungi species she observed or collected while exploring the ngāhere (forest) and bush near her homes in the coastal community of Ōeo and Hāwera.

Puke Ariki’s pictorial collection curator Chanelle Carrick says State of Nature celebrates an artist who has been largely overlooked in histories of botanical art in Aotearoa.

“While she wasn’t formally trained and had a much more expressive style than other botanical artists from her time, Fanny Good’s paintings are a valuable record of the diversity seen in our native bush and her work deserves recognition.  

“Many of the species she painted are now classed as rare or threatened less than a hundred years later, so her work reminds us how fragile our environment really is.”  

In addition to Fanny’s original works, visitors can step inside an immersive experience of the sights and sounds of the same native bush the artist would have walked through.

The free exhibition also features historic audio and video footage showing people how the bush was cleared, and visitors can find out more about what action they can take to support our native forests today.

Other works include photographs of floral arrangements by a descendant of the artist, local resident Sarah Good, in response to Fanny’s work, as well as other Taranaki artists exploring conservation and the botanical world in a range of media.

Puke Ariki holds more than 260 of Fanny’s oil paintings, many of which have never been showcased before.

What: State of Nature: Picturing the Silent Forest
When: 7 April – 5 November 2023
Where: Temporary gallery, ground floor and Wall Gallery, Puke Ariki Museum

Free entry.

About Fanny Bertha Good (1860-1950)

Fanny Good was born in Taranaki and lost her hearing as a teenager after contracting measles.

While Taranaki's native forests were being cleared to make way for farmland, she spent her time exploring the bush near her home in Ōeo and later Hāwera, collecting native plant specimens for her work.

Working with oil paint rather than the more traditional media of watercolour, her depictions of native flora and fungi are more expressive than those of other botanical artists of her time.

Fast Facts:

  • Puke Ariki first opened on 15 June 2003.
  • The total number of visitors to Puke Ariki and district libraries in the 2017/18 year was 801,703. In 2020/2021 there were 756,000 to Puke Ariki and district libraries.
  • It is the world’s first purpose-built, fully integrated museum, library and visitor information centre.
  • Puke Ariki has three long-term galleries (Te Takapou Whāriki, Taranaki Naturally and the Gallery of Taranaki Life) and components of these get changed out regularly.
  • The temporary, Lane and Wall exhibition spaces show touring exhibitions that are either curated in-house or brought in from other museums.
  • Te Pua Wānanga O Taranaki/Taranaki Research Centre is also housed at the site.


1: Fanny Bertha Good, Clianthus puniceus (Kākābeak, nationally threatened), collection of Puke Ariki.
2: Artist Fanny Bertha Good. Image credit: Good Family Collection.