Denise Martini – Kaka scientist

In 2017 I was invited to take part in the GenArt project where scientists from the Otago University Genetics department combined with artists with the view to producing an exhibition for the opening of the Australasian Genetics Conference.

On listening to the presentations, I was drawn to the subject of “Kaka genetics and conservation” having had four Kaka share their day with me in the Matukituki Valley of Mt Aspiring National Park the previous November. I met up with Denise Martini who explained her PhD project to me. Fascinating stuff but even more fascinating was her own story – first member of the family from a wee village near Padua in Italy to go to university. How did all these paths coincide? I asked Denise to tell me some of her life story through questions – she came back with absolute gems.

The exhibition became a combination of Kaka photos I took at Orokonui Eco-sanctuary, photos of Denise at work in the lab, and supplemented by quotes from her which made up a huge grid of 35 photos. Text and image combined to tell a bigger more important story than the research itself.