In September 2014, residents of Christchurch started noticing flocks of sheep hanging around the city centre. Rather than causing traffic mayhem, however, they actually helped in guiding drivers along the city’s somewhat muddled streets.
Street Sheep in their natural habitat. Christchurch City Council Newsline, All Rights Reserved
These urban sheep were brightly coloured, made of plastic and part of Christchurch City Council’s Enliven Places Programme. Their purpose was to help perk up the central city after it was ravaged by the earthquakes and encourage locals and visitors to venture back in. Designed by Christophe Machet and built in Ashburton, the sheep came in either red, yellow, green or blue with handy reflective safety stripes.
After 4 years of brightening up our streets, the sheep were decommissioned in late 2018 with about 30 of them auctioned off at the New Zealand Agricultural Show. Canterbury Museum was fortunate enough to acquire two of the sheep for its permanent collection (we couldn’t have just one sheep - it would have been lonely!). The plan is for them to move on to the greener pastures of Quake City, the Museum's special exhibition about the earthquakes in Durham Street North. At Quake City they will represent some of the great initiatives that were developed in response to the earthquakes.
Happily, in April this year, four new sheep appeared on the streets of Christchurch. These have been genetically improved to be sturdier and longer lasting. With a stainless steel body powder coated in the same familiar colours, they will be an enduring reminder of the popular Street Sheep’s glory days.
Below: The street sheep take a tour of the Museum. Note that the sheep are not on display at the Museum at this time.