Jessica – aka The Māori Mermaid – illustrated the care cards for our 2020 Green Christmas giveaway of native plants. 

A poet, an artist and a writer, Jessica Thompson Carr draws strength from her relationship with ancestral nature to explore her whakapapa and make sense of her place in society. Her illustrations and words are bold and uplifting, with a touch of humour. We asked her to turn her hand to the care cards to go with each native plant we’re giving away in our Green Christmas event this year. 

You've created a beautiful series of illustrations for our Green Christmas plant giveaway. Plants appear often in your work – were you familiar with the details of the different types of plants before, or did you learn as you drew?

I definitely learned a few new things drawing these plants – they required more patience and accuracy than other flora that I’ve drawn before. After a few drafts, I eventually got there. The only one I was super familiar with was – of course – pōhutukawa. 

If you could take one of the plants home for your own backyard, which one would you choose?

Oh I’d love some mānuka. It’s so gorgeous and has good healing properties. You can use the leaves as a substitute for tea, and the seeds can be chewed to help with stomach aches! 

What's your favourite native plant?

It has to be kawakawa. It smells like home and makes a wonderful balm, oil and tea. It has so many medicinal values, and overall it just comforts me. 

How does your connection to Papatūānuku inspire and inform your work?

I look to Papatūānuku for all of my drawings and paintings. I try to incorporate nature into most of my work, because I believe in centering the earth and I like to inspire people to get outside and just sit with it. Papatūānuku is the most important atua and I will never stop incorporating her into my mahi whether it be in a big way or a small way.

What are your plans for Kirihimete this year?

I’m going to the countryside to be with my Koro and camp on a bit of land by a river haha – very natural! 

What do you hope 2021 holds for you?

I’m hoping for good health and more knowledge about Aotearoa and my whakapapa. I will keep creating art and hope for more awesome jobs to keep me afloat as well as support important kaupapa!