Artworks engage young people with first contact

Education Minister Hekia Parata asks us to embrace our identity as Pacific islanders.

Education Minister Hekia Parata asks us to embrace our identity as Pacific islanders.

Education Minister Hekia Parata and Tiaki Maraki at the opening
Student Kahukuranui Karini with Peter Jarratt at the expo
ON THE WALL: The Te Ha Children's Art Expo in all its beauty.

EDUCATION Minister Hekia Parata opened an exhibition of mixed media works by 12 young “art warriors” at Tairawhiti Museum yesterday.

The mixed media works by Gisborne Intermediate and Tolaga Bay Area School students feature imagery and text based on first contact between Maori, Lieutenant James Cook and HMS Endeavour crew in 1769.

The artworks are the result of a Te Ha Trust pilot programme in the lead-up to the 2019 commemorations of those first formal meetings in Tolaga Bay and Gisborne.

Led by educators Peter and Ellen Jarratt, the concept behind the pilot programme was the children and their art work would inspire wider conversations and educational messages.

Three main elements were built into the programme, said Mr Jarratt. The first was to engage young people.

“We sometimes talk at them. That needs to be a two-way thing,” he said.

“As adults we have a knack of putting up our guard. When you work with young people, you see they are open about expressing themselves.”

The artists explored media that included a variety of papers, acrylics, dyes, washing liquid and salt, and techniques such as gluing cut-out images on to the work and the use of text.

They were also asked to record their formulas. If someone else wanted to borrow a particular colour, technique or material, they were required to make contact with the person who had it. This involved introducing themselves, shaking hands and smiling, said Mr Jarratt.

“That is how we get conversations. That is how we get empathy.”

The third element was to showcase the work.

“This is just the start,” said Mr Jarratt.

Mrs Parata said her ministry had seen an opportunity for the Te Ha Trust, educational leaders, the Ministry of Education and parents to develop resources to support programmes around first meetings between Maori, Cook and his crew.

One challenge she put to the trust was to ensure “his and her” stories were told.

She put another, “possibly more provocative” challenge to the trust, she said.

“It is time we got over our hemispheric schizophrenia. All New Zealanders have a mix of ancestry. Very few of Cook’s crew came from Europe. If you are not Pakeha or Maori, you are European. China is not in Europe last time I looked.”

She asked people to embrace the idea they are Pakeha.

“If necessary, find another description. Maori or European, we are all Pacific islanders.”

EDUCATION Minister Hekia Parata opened an exhibition of mixed media works by 12 young “art warriors” at Tairawhiti Museum yesterday.

The mixed media works by Gisborne Intermediate and Tolaga Bay Area School students feature imagery and text based on first contact between Maori, Lieutenant James Cook and HMS Endeavour crew in 1769.

The artworks are the result of a Te Ha Trust pilot programme in the lead-up to the 2019 commemorations of those first formal meetings in Tolaga Bay and Gisborne.

Led by educators Peter and Ellen Jarratt, the concept behind the pilot programme was the children and their art work would inspire wider conversations and educational messages.

Three main elements were built into the programme, said Mr Jarratt. The first was to engage young people.

“We sometimes talk at them. That needs to be a two-way thing,” he said.

“As adults we have a knack of putting up our guard. When you work with young people, you see they are open about expressing themselves.”

The artists explored media that included a variety of papers, acrylics, dyes, washing liquid and salt, and techniques such as gluing cut-out images on to the work and the use of text.

They were also asked to record their formulas. If someone else wanted to borrow a particular colour, technique or material, they were required to make contact with the person who had it. This involved introducing themselves, shaking hands and smiling, said Mr Jarratt.

“That is how we get conversations. That is how we get empathy.”

The third element was to showcase the work.

“This is just the start,” said Mr Jarratt.

Mrs Parata said her ministry had seen an opportunity for the Te Ha Trust, educational leaders, the Ministry of Education and parents to develop resources to support programmes around first meetings between Maori, Cook and his crew.

One challenge she put to the trust was to ensure “his and her” stories were told.

She put another, “possibly more provocative” challenge to the trust, she said.

“It is time we got over our hemispheric schizophrenia. All New Zealanders have a mix of ancestry. Very few of Cook’s crew came from Europe. If you are not Pakeha or Maori, you are European. China is not in Europe last time I looked.”

She asked people to embrace the idea they are Pakeha.

“If necessary, find another description. Maori or European, we are all Pacific islanders.”

Getting the sense of what it was like

After education minister Hekia Parata officially opened the exhibition of school children’s artworks based on first contact between Maori, Lieutenant James Cook and HMS Endeavour crew, educator Peter Jarratt said the week-long workshop was made up of two days of inspiration in which the young artists visited Uawa-Tolaga Bay to get a sense of what it might have been like to be there then.

Over the next three days, they worked on their art pieces in Tolaga Bay and Gisborne.

“They each chose one story from a range of seven and turned it into an artwork,” Mr Jarratt said.

The art making process involved experimentation with media and technique. This helped provide a stock of material the artists could trade with one another.

Under the workshop’s “fair trade” agreement, the artists were required to make formal but friendly contact with other artists in the group.

“If they needed some orange for instance, they had to make a connection. They worked on their designs with another student but they did not know how those designs would work.

“They all have a bit of each other in the artwork.”

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