The Giant Weta at Splore festival, Auckland, New Zealand, 2017. Photo courtesy of Nic Caro Photography.


Burning Man believed in The Giant Weta so much that they chose our project for a 2016 Black Rock City Honoraria Grant, to help take the art installation from New Zealand to Burning Man, Kiwiburn and beyond…

Older than some dinosaurs, the endangered Giant Weta needed community help to craft it out of metal, create flame effects shooting from its antennae and transport it to the USA, then back for Kiwiburn! Not known for it’s beauty, the world’s heaviest insect headed to the Playa as an art project led by Auckland Burners.

Auckland Burners is a group of Kiwiburners from New Zealand’s largest city who meet fortnightly throughout the year to share ideas. As a collective, they collaborated to select, design and build an interactive art piece to take to Burning Man in Nevada in 2016. The Giant Weta team was led by artist Hippathy Valentine. He is most well known for his work on the Temple for Christchurch, a temple built in a civic environment to commemorate the Canterbury Earthquakes.

Long-time Auckland burner, Andrew Benson, came up with the idea for the Weta and is a co-creator of Kiwiburn’s first art car, the Flaming Tea Cup. Kiwiburn is New Zealand’s Burning Man Regional event, held annually since 2004, and now near Hunterville in the North Island.

The group were keen to build a uniquely New Zealand structure to take to Burning Man. The Giant Weta is a native – their genus name, Deinacrida, is Greek for “fierce grasshopper”. Also endangered, they are examples of island gigantism, and the uniqueness of the insect and interactivity incorporated into the Artwork enabled participants to connect with a part of New Zealand whilst on the playa.

Key Points

  1.  The Art was built in Auckland and shipped to Burning Man in Nevada, USA.
  2.  After the burn, the Artwork was shipped back to New Zealand for Kiwiburn 2017.
  3. The Artwork will be permanently installed somewhere in New Zealand to be enjoyed by the general public.
  4. The structure was built at a 50:1 scale and is 5m long and 1.6m tall (not including the head and legs).

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The Giant Weta was supported in part by a grant from Burning Man