TODAY |

The man behind the Kiwi garden art phenomenon Metalbird

Metalbird is a little Kiwi business that’s flying, but it initially started as a way for the founder to prove his artistic worth.

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Phil Walters is one Kiwi who’s flying high. Source: Seven Sharp

An industrial designer, Phil Walters is a marvel at manufacturing.

"Asthma inhalers, a bus for Mercedes, toothbrushes for American companies,” he listed.

He had designs on another career and so began a personal quest.

"Metalbird came from - if I'm honest - being married to a prolific artist who happened to be my wife,” he said.

“She was always exhibiting and producing work in amongst being a mother and I felt a bit of pressure at the time to do something creative myself.

"I was making these small little simple birds in my shed, I was cutting them out of steel, and hammering them in around my neighbourhood for no other reason than to surprise, delight and intrigue people."

Wife Helena was sceptical but that only drove Walters on.

"Yeah she did say the birds were never going to go anywhere,” he said.

"I think that in itself gave me the impetus to prove to her that I would do something with it."

He started by selling the birds locally and slowly, his fledgling art project began to fly.

"I realised that if I was actually going to do this, I needed to jump,” he said.

"In the millisecond I realised that I phoned my boss and said 'I'm out', I couldn't wait to get into it and I've never looked back."

Factories have now replaced the shed and the metal birds are all over the world.

“It’s a fantail in NZ, it's probably a kookaburra in Australia, and a robin in England, and a cardinal in the USA."

Unfortunately, Helena never got to see her husband's art project really soar.

"My wife was diagnosed with cancer,” he said.

"There was a lot about that woman I admired but one of them was how creative she could be whilst still being a mother.

"She's not alive to see it but I know she'd be happy, I think.”